BSHF is currently supporting the growth of community-led housing through an intensive programme of promotional and collaborative activity. This activity is being supported by the Nationwide Foundation as part of their Alternative Housing Models funding programme. Because BSHF is independently funded, all of the available funds will be channelled into supporting and increasing community-led housing activity. Our programme activities have a UK focus (mostly in England but with links to organisations in Wales and Scotland), but we welcome opportunities to collaborate with and learn from those in other countries.
Find out about our programme activities.
We have been involved in supporting Community-led housing in the UK for some time – see details in Our Previous Work. It is an important area of housing innovation, seeking to address some of the most pressing problems, with many transferable lessons that can be applied or adapted in other contexts. Additionally we have identified many examples of this happening on an international basis through our work on the World Habitat Awards.
About Community-led Housing
There are many ways for people to be involved in meeting their own housing needs and wants. The route taken depends on things like the nature of the demand, available resources, location and type of activity. Approaches encompass new build, regeneration and the use of existing buildings. Community-led housing groups may form on the basis of a geographical connection or something else they have in common (e.g. Older people, LGBT groups etc.).
Broadly speaking there are 3 main ways community-led housing gets delivered:
- Group led: Grassroots groups responding to housing need or demand, or people seeking to deliver their own homes.
- Extension of community based activity: Existing community based organisations with local roots decide to provide housing in addition to their current activities.
- Developer-Community partnership: A local authority/landowner/housing association or small builder wants to provide housing that benefits the local area in perpetuity. They access community-led housing expertise to recruit ‘founder members’ from within the community and support them to take over ownership/stewardship and/or management of the homes.
What makes a scheme community-led? Common principles
The legal form and activities of each community-led housing scheme depend on the outcomes needed, but schemes that are genuinely community-led all share common principles:
- The community is integrally involved throughout the process in key decisions like what is provided, where, and for who. They don’t necessarily have to initiate the conversation, or build homes themselves.
- There is a presumption that the community group will take a long term formal role in the ownership, stewardship or management of the homes.
- The benefits of the scheme to the local area and/or specified community group are clearly defined and legally protected in perpetuity.
Numerous organisations offer services and support to assist in the delivery of community-led housing. We are working collaboratively to try to improve the process for those interested in community-led housing to find and access the support they need.
Why are we supporting Community-led Housing in the UK?
There’s no doubt that we are in desperate need of new solutions when it comes to tackling housing in the UK. We believe in the potential of the community-led movement to transform the way we view housing. There are inspiring examples across England, Wales, Scotland and internationally of what can be achieved when people take control over how their housing is supplied.
Numerous examples identify benefits such as:
- Permanently affordable housing and other bespoke housing solutions which cater specifically to the needs of local people
- Improved quality of housing stock through the renovation and reuse of existing buildings
- Improved affordability through low carbon housing, reducing utility and energy costs as well as lessening the impact on climate change
- Community ownership of assets and retention of local wealth enabling access to further funding
- Support for local supply chains and improving the skills and employability of local people
- Strengthened communities with increased confidence, capacity and control
Community-led homes can address social challenges like:
- Supporting an ageing population (including tackling loneliness and isolation), for example the Older Women’s Cohousing Group in Barnet
- Homelessness, for example Canopy Housing in Leeds
- Skills Development – many different skills can be acquired; building skills are only one example (see the Donaldson Court, Banbury Project with Sanctuary and partners, a self-build project which enlisted and trained young people from the local community).
- Support for minority and marginalised groups, for example the Zenzele Project in Bristol, or Fusions Jameen in Lewisham
- Community cohesion; building new communities and rebuilding old ones – see for example Walters Way, Lewisham; K1 Cohousing, Cambridge; Homebaked Cooperative Bakery and CLT, Liverpool; Granby4Streets CLT, Liverpool
We hope to collaborate with a wide range of organisations and individuals to share positive practice, raise awareness and create lasting change. We want to amplify the excellent work already underway to support new community-led solutions, and to generate new opportunities. We want the funding provided by the Nationwide Foundation to make as much impact as possible by joining up effectively with others in this space. We are already talking to lots of really enthusiastic and proactive people and organisations, but if you want to get involved, we would love to hear from you.
Further information and signposting can be found in our External Resources section.