A third of councils now support community-led housing

Saffron Acres in Leicester, the largest community-led housing project in Europe. Credit: Isobel Ashford (CC BY-SA 4.0)

A third of councils are now supporting community-led housing development, new research has found.

Freedom of Information requests made to all councils in England last December by the National Community Land Trust (CLT) Network revealed that one in three councils have given grants or loans to community-led housing, while one in six have specific policies to support it.

In total, 208 public sites have been leased or sold to community-led housing groups, highlighting how authorities are looking to the sector to build new homes or bring old properties back into use.

Tom Chance, director at the National CLT Network, said: ‘Our research highlights the growing interest in community-led housing in local government. With budgets stretched more councils are looking for new ways to solve local housing problems and help their neighbourhoods prosper.

‘It’s fantastic to see that one-third of councils of all political colours have now used either policy, grants, loans or land disposals to help community projects to succeed. While some see this as a distraction or competition with their own housing plans, more are seeing how community-led approaches can complement and strengthen other aspects of their housing strategy.’

Funding for community-led housing is at record levels, according to the network, including the government’s £163m Community Housing Fund which launched last year.

There are currently around 196,000 community led homes in the UK, a term which includes housing co-operatives, community land trusts and co-housing.

It is expected that over 5,000 new community homes will be built over the next five years, thanks in part to local government investment.

Projects uncovered by the National CLT Network’s research include Cornwall Council’s Strategic Policy Framework, which specifically mentions community-led housing and has issued six loans and six grants totalling almost £4.3m to community groups.

Andrew George, director at Cornwall Community Land Trust, said: ‘In Cornwall, over the past ten years, 23 projects have developed 241 homes. We’re fortunate to have full backing from Cornwall Council. Without this, we would not be as successful as we are.’

The investment in community-led housing comes as the government seeks to meet its aim of building 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s.

The Community Housing Fund is set to close this December just 17 months after opening, putting 3,546 affordable homes that have already been designed at risk as their construction costs may no longer be covered.

The National CLT have called for the Fund to be extended past 2020 at least in this year’s Spending Review, saying it would be a ‘terrible waste’ for community-led housing if the homes were to be shelved.

Chris Ogden
Digital News Reporter


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