What is community-led housing?
All over the country, local communities are getting involved in developing, owning and managing housing. Through community land trusts (CLTs), co-housing initiatives, local housing co-operatives and self-build projects, people are creating their own housing solutions to local issues.
In cities, community housing is delivering innovative, small-scale developments or bringing under-used buildings back into use, reducing crime, dealing with anti-social behaviour and revitalising neighbourhoods. In rural areas, CLTs and others are providing permanently affordable homes to prevent communities drifting apart.
Typically, this development is led by a community-owned and managed body, having firm foundations in the community it is set up to serve. Sometimes that body also provides other community enterprise activity – organisations deliver community shops, transport, arts activity and post offices to name but a few! Local people are then getting involved in managing these new homes as they are through tenant management organisations (TMOs) and other similar initiatives.
We have been supporting community-led housing for almost 25 years, since we started our work with Stockfield Community Association in Birmingham. We have helped create new organisations, including working with the special rules for Community Benefit Societies, which enable community investment shares to be issued. We have helped communities get land for development, deal with funding issues, enter into development contracts and set up long-term management arrangements.
This experience and expertise was recognised when we were appointed in 2015 by the Building and Social Housing Federation to draft a statutory definition of community-led housing. We worked with Locality, the National CLT Network, the Confederation of Co-operative Housing, Self-Help Housing Organisation and UK Co-housing Network in preparing the definition. This work will help advocate for more resources, and manage the impact of policy issues like the new “voluntary right to buy” for housing associations.
Community-led housing has enormous potential to provide more homes and to help communities control their own destiny. If you are part of a community looking at housing, we want to support you on your journey.
Some of our experience with community-led housing
Lead legal adviser on constitution and incorporation; registration with the Charity Commission and TSA; the need for a trading subsidiary.
This was sponsored by Cherwell District Council following consultation of housing need with housing waiting list applicants. Now set up as a hybrid umbrella and project-specific CLT. Its first project involves self-build plots.
Legal adviser on incorporation as a non-charitable IPS with statutory asset lock provisions. Our property team are advising on options and lease transactions.
Legal adviser on incorporation of this CLT as a hybrid umbrella CLT with charitable objects. The CLT delivers projects itself and encourages others.
Sponsored by Angmering Parish Council to receive 106 turnkey properties as well as to pursue own build. House prices are a key issue for this locality based in Sussex.
Granby 4 Streets
We supported this innovative urban CLT in Liverpool in acquiring properties from the City Council, which it will refurbish and let as permanently affordable homes as part of the renewal of the neighbourhood.
This group used a CLG structure with CIC provisions contained in it to behave like the asset lock of a CIC but without registering as a CIC. Community self-build also a part of it.
Witton Lodge Community Association
Was set up by Birmingham City Council to redevelop their neighbourhood. WLCA also took over the Perry Common Community Centre as a community asset transfer.
Stockfield Community Association
Stockfield Community Association (SCA), in partnership with Birmingham City Council, re-developed a pre-war estate of around 430 homes. SCA is a charity and has a leasehold interest over the land. It has developed housing for rent and for sale.
We are working with this London-based Tenant Management Organisation (TMO) in their development of new affordable homes. We have created the new lead body, dealt with the property matters and advised on the funding agreement with the Council .
Skelwith & Langdale CLT
Initial legal advisers on constitution. We advised on possible acquisition, refurbishment and subletting of empty properties.
Advised on legal set up and subsequent prospectus for community investment shares. These raised the gap finance for the first housing development.
Somerset & West Dorset Traveller Project
Legal adviser on Co-operatives Rules for two tier structure involving parent CLT and subsidiary co-operative.
Broadhempston Community Land Trust CIC
We are advising on the self-build agreement, and shared ownership leases.