Delivering a grass roots CLH scheme

This section of the Toolkit looks at community-led housing schemes that are initiated and often delivered by communities themselves. 

  • Groups may form in response to a local housing need, to provide homes for others or for themselves.
  • They can be initiated by neighbourhood forums, community partnerships or parish councils
  • Grass roots schemes usually require local knowledge, plus determination, skills and volunteer time; most new groups need ongoing external advice and support
  • They can create a strong sense of community and provide a measure of control over the development process and end product
  • Some grass roots schemes can take time to grow and produce housing on the ground; with the right support in place, others can be very quick to deliver
  • Some grass roots schemes involve development partnerships with a housing association or other developer

Local authorities can help communities deliver grass roots schemes in a number of ways, including:

  • Supporting the development of enabling hubs to provide independent technical support for all forms of community-led housing
  • employing a dedicated Community Housing Officer or Enabler to act as a focal point
  • drafting procurement policies and frameworks that give community-led housing providers the opportunity to bid to develop part or all of a site
  • drafting asset disposal policies that recognise that ‘best consideration’ rules allow authorities to dispose of assets at below market value to support community-led and other affordable housing schemes
  • drafting planning policies to give a measure of priority to community-led housing schemes 
  • providing revenue grants and loans, particularly for start up and the pre-planning phases of community-led housing schemes
  • providing capital loans and grants through the Community Housing Fund, Section106, New Homes Bonus, Right to Buy and other receipts, to part fund community-led housing schemes: : see section 4.3section 5.2 and section 5.5
  • working with the voluntary sector to provide community development support to groups interested in community-led housing
  • Housing associations can help communities deliver grass roots schemes by:
  • By offering development partnerships to local communities. Many communities wishing to see affordable homes provided for local people have turned to housing associations to help them achieve it. This can involve a housing association providing development and management support to an independent community group which secures finance to buy land or buildings and provides homes that it owns and manages. A typical development agreement between a community-led housing organisation and a housing association can be found at the end of the section 
  • By working with Community-led Housing Enabling Hubs, to secure specialist support for development projects: see section 1.13 and section 1.16.
  • By using their financial relationships and strength with major lenders to borrow money for community-led schemes at preferential interest rates
  • By including community-led housing in their community investment strategies
  • By employing specialist support staff able to advise community groups pursuing community–led housing schemes 
  • By providing direct revenue grants to community-led housing groups, usually through their community investment programme

Relevant Resources

Grass roots schemes from the Community Led Homes website

The National CLT Network has a Handbook available

Locality has a set of four community-led housing toolkits

The Confederation of Co-op Housing guidance, including Grassroots Schemes

The National Custom and Self Build Association has a Right to Build Toolkit

A typical Development (Service Level) Agreement between a community-led housing organisation and a housing association


Keswick Community Housing Trust

Headway Self Build Collective - Walthamstow

East Cambridgeshire District Council Supplementary Planning Guidance

Hudswell Community Charity, Richmondshire


Last updated in March 2020