Delivering CLH through Community Anchors

This section of the Toolkit looks at community led housing schemes that are initiated and often delivered by existing community anchor organisations.

Community anchor organisations are place based, multi-purpose organisations which are locally-led and deeply rooted in their neighbourhoods.

  • There is no legal definition of community anchor organisations (sometimes also referred to as development trusts); they can take a number of legal forms such as Community Benefit Societies, Companies Ltd By Guarantee and Community Interest Companies. They often also have charitable status
  • They operate on a not-for-profit basis earning income from providing services, such as training, business support, facilities management, arts & leisure, health care and child care to the local community and in so doing support and develop the local economy. They often provide spaces where the whole community can come together and forge trusting relationships
  • Where possible they manage and own community assets, such as buildings and land, and always reinvest their income in the local area in order to create long-term resilience and sustainability. Many have taken over the ownership of vital assets like post offices, community pubs, public halls, swimming pools, saving these vital services from closure
  • They are often the driving force in a local neighbourhood, in relation to community renewal and a facilitator and supporter of community activity
  • Although independent, they often work in partnership with others operating in the local area in the public, private, voluntary and community sectors
  • Some community anchors are already involved with housing provision, while others are well placed to initiate housing developments working closely with their communities. They are trusted by local communities and often have the skills to work with the community to design and develop schemes that meet local housing needs
  • They can bring years of community capacity building experience to develop innovative ways of involving the hardest to reach community members in housing scheme development. This can improve local employability skills and pathways into work. They understand the importance of supporting the local economy, by employing local people and using local supply chains
  • When community anchors develop housing they can often provide wrap around support services. They are often keen to house and support more vulnerable members of the community that utilise their services
  • Many anchor organisations work in more deprived areas, including areas of housing market failure, where private developers are usually not interested in building
  • Where community anchor organisations extend their reach to include housing this may be undertaken alone or in partnership with another organisation such as a housing association. They often have the capability to take a lead role in the partnership, ensuring that the homes developed are owned by the local community rather than the housing association and any profits can be recycled into the local community to fund further housing schemes or other community services
  • In some circumstances a decision might be taken to seek Registered Provider status with the Regulator of Social Housing, in order to access capital funding directly. This might involve the whole organisation in becoming a registered provider or creating a subsidiary housing operation. Whatever the arrangement relating to project development, the community anchor organisation will often manage the housing provided itself

Relevant Resources

Locality is the national network of community anchors.


Atmos Totnes, Totnes Development Society, Devon


Last updated in March 2020