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. 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.
What is community-led housing?
Community-led housing enables a community or a group wishing to form a community to create their own housing solutions. It is a term covering various models and options but the key to explaining what it means lies in the two words;
Community: the housing is designed to meet the needs of particular groups of people or the needs of a particular place, and
Led: the housing is shaped and controlled by a group that represents the residents and/or the wider community that will be served by the housing.
As always, the reality is more complex than this, and a wide range of different approaches and ideas exist.
While current estimates suggest that community-led housing represents less than 1% of housing in the UK, there is a growing level of interest in different approaches. Community-led housing has great potential to generate new ideas and build stronger communities.
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.