Research reveals rising council support for community-led housing

A third of local authorities in England now support community-led housing, with over 200 sites sold for such development.


Councils have sold over 200 sites to community-led housing groups, with new research revealing a third of local authorities in England now support such development.

Released by the National Community Land Trust Network (NCLTN), the research references success stories such as:

  • Bristol City Council and its Community Asset Transfer Policy, which promotes the growth of community-led housing and has issued loans and grants totalling £300,000
  • Cornwall Council’s Strategic Housing Framework that specifically mentions community-led housing and has issued six loans to community groups totalling £3,231,000 and six grants totalling £1,016,750
  • Brighton and Hove City Council investing its full Community Housing Fund allocation in a new Independent Enabler Hub that will help groups form and deliver across the city region

“Our research highlights the growing interest in community-led housing in local government. With budgets stretched, more councils are looking for new ways to solve local housing problems and help their neighbourhoods prosper,” said NCLTN director Tom Chance.

“It’s fantastic to see that one-third of councils of all political colours have now used either policy, grants, loans or land disposals to help community projects to succeed.

“While some see this as a distraction or competition with their own housing plans, more are seeing how community-led approaches can complement and strengthen other aspects of their housing strategy,” he said.

FoI responses to NCLTN show a third of councils in England now support community-led housing development, with one in six having policies to support such schemes and one in three having given grants or loans to them.

At least 208 public sites have been sold or leased to community-led housing groups.

Despite central government forecasting that 300,000 properties need to be built each year until the mid-2020s, housing starts are falling short.

And while councils will benefit from the lifting of the Housing Revenue Account borrowing cap, they are still facing an £8bn funding gap during the same period.

Funding available for community-led housing is at record levels and includes the government’s £163m Community Housing Fund.

This followed a first year of the Fund (2016/17), when £60m was granted to 148 local authorities based in areas where the number of second homes is high.

There are more than 196,000 community-led homes in the UK, the majority co-operative homes that were built in the 1970s and ’80s.

But in recent years the movement, which also includes community land trusts and co-housing, has seen a surge in interest. It is expected that 5,000 new community led homes will be built in the next five years.

Andrew George, director at Cornwall Community Land Trust, said putting the communities “in the driving seat” not only helped get homes built but had them protected in perpetuity for future generations.

“Community-led housing works. In Cornwall, over the past 10 years, 23 projects have developed 241 homes,” he said.

“We’re fortunate to have full backing from Cornwall Council – without this, we would not be as successful as we are.

“From professional support to political backing and the availability of a £4m Community Land Trust Revolving Loan Fund to bankroll the development phase.

“It makes a big difference to know the council is right behind what we’re doing,” he said.

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