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Local authorities and housing associations can promote and support community-led housing schemes in many ways. For example as, an initiator; a source of advice and guidance; a capacity builder, a development agent, a funding channel, a development partner or a management agent.

This section of the Toolkit looks at the role local authorities and housing associations can play in development partnerships with communities.

  • There are many examples of community-led housing schemes being developed jointly with a housing association as a development partner. This is often the case where the association is the means of accessing government grant funding and where further borrowing has to be secured against the value of the development
  • Where a community group is initiating a partnership, it is good practice for them to talk to more than one potential partner before deciding which one to work with
  • In arrangements of this kind, the community-led group may hold the freehold of the housing development with a housing association having a long lease which can be 60, 125 or even 999 years
  • Where the community group is the freeholder they will receive a ground rent; the amount of which has to be negotiated and agreed with the association as leaseholder. The position is changing, however, with the Government intending to ban leasehold on all new build schemes, except for shared ownership, with ground rents set to zero. There may be an exemption for community-led housing, but this is not yet certain
  • Arrangements can sometimes be seen as unduly restrictive from the point of view of the community group, but there are ways in which a group can still have significant influence over how the housing is allocated, managed and maintained. This can be set out in a management agreement along the lines of the agreements used by tenant management co-operatives
  • Some community-led housing schemes involve established community organisations partnering with local authorities or housing associations, using their expertise in development and/or management, often through a Service Level Agreement. The community organisation usually raises the funding and retains the asset, often recycling surpluses into other projects in the local community or strengthening its own sustainability
  • Other community-led housing schemes are promoted and supported by local authorities or housing associations as a result of partnership working between themselves, with local communities engaged during the process and taking a measure of control over the end product. The housing co-op work carried out over many years by Accord Housing Group, particularly in Redditch in the West Midlands, is an exemplar for this type of approach. A snapshot is included below
  • A Partnership Framework can include a statement setting out why partners are likely to be needed to support the project, the functions they might perform, at what stage they might be brought on board and the criteria for successful partnership working from a community group’s perspective
  • A Joint Working Agreement Protocol or Partnership Agreement can then be put in place once a development opportunity becomes real, setting out more formally the roles, responsibilities and arrangements. Only in more complex schemes is this likely to need specialist legal input. A Joint Working Protocol template is included later in this section of the Toolkit

Ingredients for a successful development partnership

  • Developing a shared vision
  • Building understanding and capacity
  • Developing an agreed delivery plan
  • Maintaining a joint commitment to deliver
  • Clear and effective communication and managing expectations
  • Dealing with conflict
  • Maintaining trust and mutual respect
  • Avoiding confusion over roles and responsibilities
  • Awareness of cultural differences between voluntary community groups and large bureaucratic organisations
Last updated in April 2018