Community Led Housing
What is it?
The Government describes ‘Community Led Housing’ as being
…about local people playing a leading and lasting role in solving local housing problems, creating genuinely affordable homes – including for ownership – and strong communities.”
We know that all too often, young people and families are forced to leave the rural areas they grew up in because they cannot afford the local housing costs. This clearly raises a significant challenge to rural communities who see the loss of their younger generations as a blow to the long-term sustainability of their parish and economy.
Conditions attached to the granting of planning permission, however, mean that rural housing sites often command very high prices leading, in some cases, to the exclusion of affordable housing as the cost of the land makes it unviable.
We are also aware sometimes the identified types and tenures of homes needed for the community can be overlooked by developers. We believe it is now even more important to work in partnership with local authorities, housing providers and the local residents to deliver community led development, determined by local need in rural areas.
What types of housing do our communities need?
Although there is a real need for more affordable homes, we also believe that in many places there is also a need for homes older people to downsize to, for opportunities for aspiring home-owners to eventually buy or even build their own home, and for affordable small business units which help the rural economy to thrive.
A diverse community needs diverse solutions and A Different Approach is able to deliver several more solutions than have historically been available to local communities and local authorities.
We have been working over the past few years to develop new tenures and models of housing and employment to ensure that there is real choice for a range of needs, including;
- Affordable rented homes
- Downsizing and shared equity homes
- Affordable rent to buy homes
- First time buyer homes
- Affordable self-build plots
- Community Land Trusts (CLTs)
- Dementia Care
- Shared ownership small business units
- Community led development can also include community facilities such as a community shop, orchard and allotments.
How does Community Led Housing work?
Communities are made up of people from all walks of life, and of all ages and abilities, who all help to make thriving and dynamic communities in their own ways. It would seem therefore that a ‘place-based approach’ is key to delivering locally. One size does not fit all, and so each parish or community will have particular issues which they will want addressed. Any community led housing scheme needs to be led from the bottom up by those who know their issues and needs and who are well aware of the challenges; community led housing enables communities to identify their own specific housing needs.
Working with Parish Councils, Neighbourhood Plan Groups, local builders and developers and the residents themselves, we can assist with identifying the particular needs of a community and by delivering appropriate housing solutions.
We are grateful that the revised National Planning Policy Framework made some welcome changes to support rural areas recognising that planning policies should identify opportunities for villages to thrive and grow and revive some villages which have been seen as unsustainable in the past.
In many rural settlements there is usually a need for the provision of affordable homes over a number of years to enable planned growth for local people. Whereas on much larger development sites developers will often option land for future growth, this rarely happens in rural villages.
We believe it is important for parishes to be able to plan confidently for future needs and therefore on larger sites we can take a phased approach to delivery spreading the total number of homes over 15/20 years to create some certainty in terms of development into the future – a future where no one is left behind.
Community Land Trusts (CLTs) are set up as a local response to the need for affordable homes for local people. They are however about more than just bricks and mortar; they are also about communities and sustainability.
CLTs are ideally placed to identify land which can be brought forward for housing that may not normally be made available. However, CLTs often rely on land being gifted or being acquired at significantly below market value in order for projects to be deliverable. The cost of the land, infrastructure and professionals can often be prohibitive and that is where we at ADA hope we can help. In response to a proven housing need, an allocated site could be extended to provide an ‘exception site’ for a CLT, subject to planning permission etc.
CLTs could then ‘piggy-back’ onto the original site so the cost of the infrastructure is borne / subsidised by the open market housing. This allows CLTs to be provided with a serviced site complete with infrastructure and statutory services already installed, reducing the risk of delivery substantially
Typically, CLTs work with a small number of receptive housing associations to deliver a scheme, the CLT becomes the freeholder of any property and enters into a longterm lease with the association. This type of partnership enables CLTs to commission projects, agree local lettings plans and to receive an income.
Other options include raising finance through the sale of community shares to secure funding for a CLT. Community shares have a number of unique characteristics that make them a valuable form of finance for community enterprise as they are not open to capital gains or financial takeovers and therefore attract investors whose interests are aligned with the purpose of the society. As such it provides capital which helps attract other forms of finance - grants, donations and debt.
CLTs are also able to take on other community interests such as the village shop, pub and orchards. They could also consider developing one or two homes as private rented or holiday lets in order to assist with overall finances.