Types of community led housing

Every community led housing project is unique.

Community led housing
is like pick and mix.

One size definitely doesn't fit all,
and that's the beauty of it!


Community led housing can come about for a number of reasons and in different ways. In this section we'll cover the most common ways in which a community led housing project comes to being, the concepts that can shape a project and the possible build methods that are available.

Remember, no two projects are the same. Community led housing can be adapted and moulded to create bespoke solutions that remedy particular issues and factors that have led to a group forming.

Where does it all start?

Through grassroots activism

When it comes to local issues, it's local people that feel it most and it's those same people who know what would make the situation better. A well organised grassroots campaign that is committed to driving change from the bottom-up is a seriously powerful thing. But there's no denying it, grassroots community led housing projects can be challenging and require dedication and individuals with a knack for getting key players on board.

Existing community organisations

Existing community-based organisations like development trusts and community anchors are well placed to extend their current activities and generate additional income by moving into housing. With their community focus, strong governance and networks, many organisations are now branching out into housing to further support their community.

A developer-community partnership

A local authority, landowner, housing association or small builder wants to provide housing that benefits the local area in perpetuity. They access community-led housing expertise to recruit ‘founder members’ from within the community and support them to take over ownership, stewardship and/or management of the homes, or they may support an existing group or organisation to deliver their ambition.

The different concepts

Cannock Mill


Cohousing is a design methodology used by intentional communities to create spaces that promote connectivity and togetherness.

Read more on cohousing here
Keswick CLT

Community land trusts (CLTs)

CLTs are legal entities set up by communities to provide and protect assets of community value like genuinely affordable housing.

Read more about CLTs here
RUSS CLT in discussion

Housing co-operatives

A housing co-operative is a housing organisation that is controlled, managed and owned by its members.

Read more about housing co-ops here
Latch: Self-help housing in Leeds

Self-help housing

Self-help housing is where empty properties are refurbished and brought back, often creating opportunities for training and volunteering.

Read about self-help housing here

If built from scratch, by who?

When it comes to the build or renovation of the properties
there's the conventional way or the not so conventional...

Community self-build

Not to be confused with the self-build projects that you see on Grand Designs, community self-build is where groups of ordinary people learn new skills and use modern and efficient construction methods to build homes.


Self-finish is where residents are provided with the shell of a home to complete themselves. This process give residents the chance to learn new skills and save on the cost of the property as their hours of labour are taken into account and used as a discount from the final price.

Hired contractors

In the same way as a normal housing development would be built community led housing groups have the option to hire a contractor to carry out the build of their homes. In many cases local building firms are chosen in order to keep money within the local economy.

Housing associations

Some community led housing group choose to partner with a housing association to mitigate risks and to lower costs. Housing associations have long-standing relationships with contractors and expertise in this area of work which some groups see as a benefit.