The new Community Housing Fund (CHF) is expected to open for applications in or around August 2021 with £4 million to be allocated to community-led housing groups to support the supply of affordable housing in England.

The launch of the new Community Housing Fund (CHF) is anticipated in or around August 2021 following extensive campaigning by community-led housing groups and umbrella bodies. £4 million is being allocated to increase the supply of affordable housing and will be available to community-led housing groups. The funding is for project-specific pre-development activities and unlike previous funding, can be used to cover the costs of becoming a registered provider (RP).

Who can apply?
The CHF is open to groups in England located outside of the Greater London Authority (which has separate funding allocated). These groups include registered charities, companies limited by guarantee, community benefit societies and community interest companies. Projects must be in the later stage of pre-development, meaning those close to submitting their full planning application, capital funding bid or ready to begin work on-site or purchase property.

The Fund can be used to assist with:

  • submitting full planning applications or reserved matters;
  • preparing detailed applications to become an RP;
  • submitting capital funding bids;
  • getting ready to start on-site work or development/ refurbishment of pre-built stock.

When applying, groups need to prove deliverability and show that the project is secure; that they have a suitable site or property in ownership or have certainty of obtaining such. This could be evidenced by an options agreement or a memorandum of understanding (MOU) and having pre-application planning advice to show that there will not be difficulty obtaining consent. Further, applicants must demonstrate financial viability as the timescale for spending the grant is limited.

What are the timescales?
Crucially, the funding needs to be spent by March 2022 which gives only six months from the launch to apply and use the funding.

Is there a maximum grant amount?
To attract a wide range of community groups, there is no minimum or maximum amount that can be applied for however applicants must be mindful of the spending deadline and ensure that the grant can be spent on time.

How can we apply?
Groups seeking to access the Fund should take steps to prepare now so that an application can be submitted as soon as the Fund opens. Further guidance can be found on the Community Led Homes website. Once the Fund launches, organisations should aim to submit an Eligibility Checker within 4 weeks in order to receive an application form.

What can groups do to prepare?
Groups hoping to access the Fund may wish to start collating documentation to demonstrate compliance with the eligibility criteria. This could include:

  • accounts showing one-year cash flow for the organisation/group;
  • evidence of other funding in principle,
  • feasibility work;
  • evidence of community engagement;
  • evidence of land ownership or that you have taken steps to secure ownership;
  • land or building valuation reports carried out by a RICS valuer;
  • planning advice that supports a good chance of obtaining planning permission from a planning consultant or the local planning authority; and
  • your proposed allocations policy and evidence that is supported by the local authority.

Grants will be made on a first-come, first-served basis, so we advise you to prepare now.

For more information 

If you would like any advice on any aspect of this e-briefing, please contact Safa Murad.