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How councils can enable community-led housing

Community-led housing should be added to the strategic mix in all local authorities, a new report says.

The Housing Commission on Community-Led Housing, set up by the Co-operative Councils’ Innovation Network, says community-led projects can help build new homes, return empty properties to use, and empower local communities.

The report provides an introduction to community-led housing and the funding available. It includes 12 different case studies and shows how community-led housing can help councils achieve their strategic priorities.

One of the case studies is Leeds council, which, the report says, has a track record of supporting community-led housing.

‘Leeds council works with community-led housing providers to identify opportunities to develop new homes. It adopts a flexible approach to affordable housing policy, while ensuring that housing register applicants can access the homes created,’ the report says.

The council has embedded community-led housing in its empty homes strategy 2016-19 and is working with a number of groups, including Chapeltown Cohousing, which is developing a co-housing scheme with a common house, four self-build plots and 30 affordable rented flats for over 55s, in partnership with Unity Housing Association.

The report highlights the work being done by Brighton and Hove council, which, it says, works with a network of housing co-ops to meet shared goals. It enables access to land and helps co-ops identify private sector empty properties.

The council officers provide advice and support on issues such as business modelling, pre-planning application advice and developing external funding bids, the report says.

Bunker Co-op is one self-build housing scheme hoping to develop two homes for affordable rent in the area. The council has leased a small, challenging, former garage site for £500 a year for the scheme. Project costs will be met by the co-operative and other co-ops. Once built, these homes will then be available for council nominees in perpetuity.

Commission chair and Croydon council leader, Tony Newman said: ‘The housing markets across the UK are failing to meet the needs of local communities.

‘We are advocating community-led housing because we recognise the shortage of public sector resources for housing. We need to harness communities’ local knowledge, commitment and resources in order to generate affordable housing.’

‘We have brought together examples of good practice and innovation by councils across the country. Our report adopts a practical approach to enable other authorities to follow this lead and support community-led housing.’

The leader of Stevenage council and chair of the Co-operative Councils’ Network, Sharon Taylor added: ‘Too often we hear that people are caught in the private rental trap or unable to get on to the housing leader.

‘Enabling communities to create affordable homes is something that local councils can do, and this report provides real examples of how to do it.

‘We’re encouraging all councils to commit to supporting the development of more community-led housing.’

  • To read more case studies click here.

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