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A guide to community led housing
Somerset West and Taunton Council has an ambition to increase the number of affordable homes in its area in order to support local communities and local economies
Community led housing is one way of delivering additional affordable housing using the enthusiasm of local people to create well designed and well positioned affordable housing which are managed by local people. It has been proven to be a way of unlocking the smaller, difficult and rural exception sites and engaging local people to ensure as much public support for the development as possible.
Somerset West and Taunton is currently actively supporting community led housing in a number of ways and there are plans to expand this support to meet a growing local demand.
What is a Community Led Housing (CLH) project?
Community led housing is where people and communities play a leading and lasting role in their own housing solutions by developing and managing homes. By working together, people can provide good quality and affordable housing for those who are priced out of the housing market. Open and meaningful community participation and consent takes place throughout the process. At the end of the project the community group or organisation owns, manages or stewards the homes in whichever way they decide to.
Community led housing is an umbrella term which covers a range of approaches including community land trusts, housing co-operatives, cohousing, mutual homeownership, Almshouses, self-help housing and community self-build.
Community Land Trusts
A community land trust (CLT) is a not-for-profit organisation that is made up of community members. They are community organisations that develop housing, community facilities, or other assets to meet the needs of the community. Companies limited by guarantee, community interest companies and community benefit societies can all be established as CLTs.
The process a CLT follows is firstly to acquire land, either by buying it, on a long-lease or as a gift, secondly to oversee the development of affordable housing to rent or buy and lastly to remain a steward when the homes are complete.
There are different ways of organising a CLT
- Stand-alone CLT: In a stand-alone CLT, the CLT takes full responsibility for funding, planning and development. The CLT may choose to manage and maintain the completed properties or contract with a Housing Association to do this work for them.
- Partnering with a Housing Association: In this type of CLT, the CLT owns the freehold and the Housing Association has a long term lease on the land. The CLT leads on finding a site, and deciding on the numbers and design of the homes. The Housing Association funds the development and develops, manages and maintains the homes.
Housing Co-operatives are non-profit housing organisations where members democratically control and manage their homes. Some housing co-ops own the homes that they manage, some lease them from another organisation (e.g. a Housing Association) and some manage properties that belong to a different landlord, such as their local Council.
Unlike some other types of community led housing the membership of a co-op is limited strictly to its residents. The community in question is made up of the people living together.
Co-housing schemes are intentional communities, created and run by residents who share a vision of how they wish to live. They can mix tenures with different degrees of equity.
Each household has a self-contained home exclusively for their use but they also share some communal space where they can chose to spend time collectively, such sharing meals.
Mutual Homeownership is a form of property tenure for those on intermediate incomes to obtain an equity stake.
Residents form a Mutual Home Ownership Society which owns the homes and has a collective mortgage. Residents pay towards costs (usually based on household income) and have an equity share.
Almshouses began in medieval times and are usually run by a group of trustees.
An Almshouse Trust could expand, creating new homes alongside existing properties. For example it could renovate or refurbish an existing building, or build new homes for its community.
Self-help housing projects refurbish existing properties and often offer a range of opportunities for ‘hands on’ involvement by members during the refurbishment process.
There are two ways in which this can work:
- Properties could be purchased and then refurbished. This would require funding for both acquisition and refurbishment.
- Properties could be leased and refurbished. In this case it would only necessary to cover the cost of renovation. Properties need to be leased for long enough to make it financially viable from a co-operative landlord, such as a local authority or housing association, and ideally at a pepper corn rent.
Group self-build or collective custom-build
A self-build scheme can fall into the community led housing category if it involves members of the community coming together to build their own homes. An individual self-build scheme is not a community scheme.
Self-builders might undertake most of the work or use contractors for some or all of the build. The self-build group could be a co-op or a Community Land Trust.
Where to go for help
If you believe that a community led housing scheme would be of interest in your community and you are interested in finding out more about any of the options above contact.
Somerset West and Taunton Council
We offer support, signposting and advice to community led housing projects from our enabling staff. There is also a small fund available to help projects at start-up phase.
The Wessex Community Housing Hub
They can put you in touch with Technical Advisors who can advise on what type of community led housing project would suit your community best and what funding pots are available to get you started.
Website: Wessex Community Assets
The National CLT Network
This is the official charity supporting Community Land Trusts (CLTs) in England and Wales. They provide funding, resources, training and advice for CLTs and is part of a broad alliance of organisations promoting and supporting community led housing in England.
Community Led Homes
Has a network of advisors across the UK and community led housing hubs across England.
Website: Community Led Homes
The Almshouse Association
Supports and represents almshouses across the UK.
Website: The Almshouse Association
UK Cohousing Network
Provides information about cohousing and established and developing projects.
Website: UK Cohousing
The National Custom and Self Build Association (NaCSBA)
Provides information and support to people who want to access self-build, custom build and community led housing.
The Confederation of Co-operative Housing
Supports co-operative and community led housing organisations.
A website dedicated to promoting and supporting self-help housing initiatives.
A website giving information and access to resources about Mutual Home Ownership Societies in the UK.
Website: Mutual Home Ownership Societies