In December 2016, we were allocated £1.86 million from the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) to support the development of community-led housing in the Borough. Since then we have been working with a number of local communities and other organisations to bring forward community-led housing initiatives in the Borough.
What is Community-led Housing?
Community-led housing is where the local community takes on the lead role of developing, managing and/or owning affordable housing in their own area for the local community.
Community-led housing has five main features:
- It is usually small scale – most schemes are under 20/25 homes and some are much smaller
- Schemes are usually set up and run by local people in their own communities, often with external support from housing associations, local authorities or regional and national support organisations
- It provides genuinely affordable homes for rent, shared ownership or sale
- Schemes meet long-term local housing needs, by the community retaining an interest in the homes provided and ensuring they are always available to local people who need them
- Community-led housing is not for profit, involving considerable voluntary effort
How can communities get involved?
There are three main ways in which community-led groups can become involved:
Developer-led partnership: A Local Authority, landowner, housing association or local developer wants to provide housing that incorporates a community-led element. They access technical expertise to recruit ‘founder members’ from within the community and support them to take over ownership and/or management of the homes. In this scenario it is essential that all of the community-led criteria (see below) are met to ensure genuine community benefit and involvement.
Extension of community based activity: Existing community-based organisations with local roots decide to provide housing in addition to their current activities, accessing technical expertise to help them understand this new area of work.
Group-led: New community-led groups form in response to local housing need, or to deliver their own homes. They sometimes emerge from existing networks such as Neighbourhood Forums and parish councils. They access technical expertise to support the development and realisation of their ideas.
How are we helping communities?
Our criteria for supporting community-led housing is based on the following basic principles:
- a requirement that the community must be integrally involved throughout the process in key decisions (what, where, for who). They don’t necessarily have to initiate and manage the development process, or build the homes themselves, though some may do;
- a presumption in favour of community groups that are taking a long term formal role in ownership, management or stewardship of the homes; and
- a requirement that the benefits to the local area and/or specified community must be clearly defined and legally protected in perpetuity.
We have published criteria for the allocation of funding to groups, which includes community development set-up funding, feasibility funding and development funding.
We have supported a number of groups with community development set up funding and feasibility funding to enable them to start working on the development of a community-led housing scheme.
We also awarded development funding of £60,000 from the Community Housing Fund to Hinderwell Almshouses to enable them to convert former office space and empty space into 2 new flats for local households in Hinderwell. Work started on these flats in 2018 and they are due to be completed in Spring 2019.