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Michael's projects, he says, are almost wholly occupied by the white middle-class, but, he stresses, "there is no reason why it can't be attractive to everybody".

Michael acknowledges the feeling among some in Britain that living in a shared space is tantamount to "going backwards".

"If I wanted to put a shed in my garden or paint the outside of the house, other residents might stop me.

Inspired by the Danish model, set up more than 40 years ago when the architect Jan Gudmand-Høyer decided he wanted to create a "more supportive living environment", they evolve around the notion of privately owned houses with shared communal facilities in a pedestrianised setting."It is so easy for a living situation to develop where you are isolated," says David Michael, 55, managing director of the Cohousing Company, which has built four co-housing communities in the UK to date and is now busy on its fifth."Some people want to have their car next to their own house, with their own front garden, and have aspirations to have bigger houses in the future.There is a feeling in this country that being an adult is about being autonomous and you do lose some control in these sorts of communities," he says.His co-operative owns four houses with 32 residents, a mix of artists, musicians and activists, paying £245 a month each towards the running of their properties."The thing about being part of the co-op housing movement is that you are sitting on a huge asset, but no individual member can profit from it," he says.