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 Cooperative 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.