Community-led housing has existed on a large scale in many other countries for decades. Good examples can be found in many other European states, in Canada and the USA and in South America. In Scotland, many housing associations include a large degree of community involvement and control. In England social housing has a more paternalistic history and culture, but times are changing.
The arrival of the Government’s Community Housing fund and the high political profile now given to delivering large numbers of new homes across the board has presented a challenge to the CLH sector. Can it scale up its activities and deliver the numbers whilst also maintaining its focus on community leadership?
Community-led housing schemes add value and diversity to the affordable housing options available. They can deliver larger numbers of units if:
- A CLH approach is applied wholesale to larger housing developments
- Repeatable CLH models are developed and delivered
There are now a growing number of examples of these mechanisms being developed in both urban and rural settings. Two are included as case study snapshots below.
For local authorities or supportive housing associations, there can be considerable benefits in taking a strategic approach to CLH developments. Economies can be generated both for the local authority and for CLH groups by developing several schemes in one programme.
This can deliver, for example:
- Economies of scale in relation to the input of officer time
- Shared learning and mutual support with and between community/ resident groups
- Economies in the procurement of required professional support such as legal, design, planning, financial advice, finance etc
- Community support for large schemes that might otherwise be controversial and difficult to deliver
- De-risking CLH schemes where they are part of larger developments
Scaling up in urban and rural areas
Local authorities in major cities such as London, Bristol and Leeds have already included CLH within their housing strategies, are investing in infrastructure and working more closely with a wide range of CLH groups and support organisations delivering both new build homes and the refurbishment of empty properties.
The same is happening in rural areas such as East Cambridgeshire, Northumberland and North Yorkshire, where CLH is adding range and diversity of provision in places where housing growth has often been difficult, due in part to community resistance.