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Delivering more housing on the ground is now an urgent national priority.  This section explains how local authorities and others can use community-led housing as a mechanism to help deliver their strategic housing objectives such as diversity of provision, area regeneration, genuinely affordable homes, development of otherwise less economic sites and overcoming local opposition to development. It is part of a broader ‘people-based approach’ to housing delivery, post Grenfell. Various mechanisms for developing CLH are described in detail in other sections of this Toolkit (1.8, 1.9, 1.10 and 1.11)

What community housing offers

Community Led Housing can add to the diversity and total numbers of affordable homes created and to the variety of the offer within an area. CLH schemes do not just provide a replacement for more traditional methods of delivery.

There are a various ways in which CLH can add value to local authority housing strategies in both urban and rural areas, helping them meet their delivery targets. The 2018 CCIN report evidenced research amongst local authorities which can be summarised as follows:

  • Improving housing supply and the provision of permanently affordable accommodation was the most frequently stated for incorporating CLH into housing strategies. It can help to diversify the market and increase choice, fulfilling a local need. CLH organisations often overcome barriers posed by small problematic sites that put off established housing providers.  By increasing community involvement, CLH can reduce opposition to development in both rural and urban areas 
  • Empowering communities so that they become more self-sufficient, cohesive, resilient and sustainable.  In rural areas CLH encourages mixed tenure schemes that enable people to remain in the area, maintaining the viability of shops, schools and services, and helping local employers to recruit and retain their workforce. In urban areas CLH helps with the sustainability of mixed communities, empowering them to make decisions about their areas
  • Involving residents in addressing housing need – CLH helps authorities in bringing forward new market and affordable schemes to address local needs. At a time of growing demand for support services, authorities see CLH schemes as enabling older and other vulnerable people to live well in the community. CLH provides local housing options for them or their support networks and creates mutually supportive communities. There was some interest in supporting cohousing and other CLH schemes for older people or those with support needs
  • Supporting regeneration and returning empty homes to use – urban authorities with areas of low housing demand reported that CLH schemes contributed to returning empty homes to use, increasing the commitment to and confidence in the neighbourhood, attracting more investment and new residents.  Sometimes CLH groups acted as a catalyst to get others involved

Costs and affordability

  • CLH schemes can reduce the costs of housing development. They do this because of the subsidy provided by the investment of voluntary time and effort that they involve – not just in self-build schemes but in the paperwork and bureaucracy of the development process
  • These development phase cost savings can mean that CLH projects can also provide solutions to housing problems that more conventional delivery mechanisms cannot reach; for example – bringing empty properties back into use and/ or developing sites otherwise not considered economic by housing developers or associations
  • Cost savings in housing management can also lead directly to lower rents and greater affordability. These are principally brought about by voluntary input, but also from greater identification with and ownership of schemes. This results in fewer tenancy issues and lower management and maintenance costs. There are many examples of the outturn rents of CLH schemes being lower and hence more affordable than conventional social housing schemes. Any surpluses can be used to tackle other community priorities
Last updated in April 2018