The Government has launched a fund to help communities come together to build and refurbish the affordable housing that local people need.
The multi-million-pound Community Housing Fund was announced by Secretary of State, Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP, in his first speech on housing, Making the Housing Market Work, at Policy Exchange on Monday 2nd July.
England is not building enough affordable housing — 92% of local authorities are not meeting affordable housing needs. 56% of the population accept that moderate housebuilding in local areas is a necessity. With the increased need for genuinely affordable housing, the Community Housing Fund will support the growth of new homes that are developed and controlled by local people.
The Fund will be managed by Homes England and will come in two phases: revenue grants to help community led housing groups to fund planning stages and capital for infrastructure; followed by capital grants for the construction of affordable housing.
The community led housing movement has grown significantly in the past decade, with more communities coming together to form Community Land Trusts (CLTs), cohousing groups and housing co-ops to build much-needed housing. The Fund will support the delivery of thousands of additional affordable homes in the next three years, as well as helping to secure the long-term sustainability of the community led housing movement in the future.
Evidence from the community led housing sector has consistently shown that when the community is in control of development, they are more likely to want new homes, and sometimes more homes than originally planned. St Ann’s Redevelopment Trust (StART) is a community group from north London, they have large scale support for 800 new affordable homes to be built on former NHS land. Previous plans produced by a big developer for less than 400 homes, only 14% of which were affordable, were opposed by locals.
The announcement has been welcomed by the main community led housing bodies: Confederation of Co-operative Housing, Locality, National Community Land Trust Network and UK Cohousing. They have been working closely with Government on the Fund’s design, and are putting in place support networks, adviser training and online resources to help more communities.
Tom Chance, Director of the National CLT Network said: “We are delighted that Government has recognised the potential of community led housing. Traditional housing models just aren’t cutting it, and new approaches to housebuilding must play a bigger role if we are to see off the housing crisis once and for all. Community led housing is being taken up by people across the country, and with Government support through the Community Housing Fund we have an opportunity to turn it into a mainstream housing option.”
Stephen Hill, Chair of the UK Cohousing Network said: “By supporting the community led housing sector, the Community Housing Fund will enable the growing number of cohousing groups across the UK to create not only affordable homes, but supportive and sharing communities that offer their own innovative and cost-effective solutions to wider social care issues, like older age living.”
Blase Lambert, Chief Executive of the Confederation of Co-operative Housing said: “The Confederation of Co-operative Housing welcomes the publication of the prospectus for the Community Housing Fund and looks forward to many new homes being built by its members and other community led housing organisations.”
Tony Armstrong, Chief Executive of Locality said: “The new funding available from the Community Housing Fund will enable communities across England to deliver exciting new community led housing schemes. We believe in harnessing the power of community to create a fairer society, and that’s exactly what community led housing is all about. We’re excited to be working collaboratively to help communities create the new and refurbished affordable homes that are so urgently needed.”
Pictured above: Leeds Community Homes are on a mission to build 1,000 people powered homes in the city by 2028.