Homes of Our Own is the community led housing hub covering Wiltshire and Swindon. It is a partnership between Community First, Wiltshire Community Land Trust, Swindon Borough Council and Wiltshire Council.
The vision of Homes of Our Own is to enable and support community groups to deliver housing development that provides defined community benefits which are protected in perpetuity. Furthermore, the project vision is to provide a legacy for community led development. Localism and innovation lies at the heart of the vision and it is helping to build stronger and more resilient communities.
Homes of Our Own supports and enables groups seeking to deliver alternative solutions to their community housing needs beyond the mainstream delivery mechanisms. The Homes of Our Own team offer support to assist with the work associated with setting up a community led housing group, and to enable community led housing projects. It also supports community groups working in a developer-community partnership.
The Homes of Our Own team are hosted by Community First and Wiltshire Council and includes skills and experience in community led housing, community engagement, housing needs, affordable housing, planning, procurement of services and project management. Homes of Our Own works across the partner organisations and has access to external independent advisors with experience of the community led housing sector.
Community led housing is about local people playing a leading and lasting role in solving local housing problems. It is about creating genuinely affordable homes and strong communities in ways that are difficult to achieve through mainstream housing.
Community led housing proposals should ensure that:
- Meaningful community engagement and consent occurs throughout the development process. The community does not necessarily have to initiate and manage the process, or build the homes themselves, though some may do;
- The local community group or organisation owns, manages or stewards the homes in a manner of their choosing. This may be done through a mutually supported arrangement with a Registered Provider that owns the freehold or leasehold for the property; and
- The benefits to the local area and/or specified community must be clearly defined and legally protected in perpetuity.
Community led housing is a sector within the housing profession that is gaining increased profile, in part, from the housing affordability issues and the lack of diversity within the mainstream delivery of housing. Often it is considered to be a means of delivering affordable housing for the community. However, it is not exclusively about delivering affordable housing as defined in the National Planning Policy Framework.
There are opportunities within neighbourhood planning to support Community led housing. Neighbourhood planning gives communities more control over the future of their area by giving local people the chance to have their say on what happens where they live. For more information about neighbourhood planning in Wiltshire, please visit the Wiltshire Council website, here and for Swindon, here.
There is no one model for community led housing. Most community projects have differing characteristics and many projects will share and borrow elements of the various community led housing models.
Community Land Trusts (CLTs)
Community Land Trusts (CLTs) are a form of Community Led Housing, set up and run by people to develop and manage homes as well as other assets. CLTs act as long-term stewards of land and housing. In this model they may delegate the development work and/or management of the asset to a project partner such as a housing association, or the CLT may become a registered provider themselves. For more information visit the National CLT Network.
These are groups of self-contained dwellings with the benefit of shared additional facilities which are all managed by a group. The shared facility may be a large kitchen where group meals are shared, or a hall where meetings and classes may be hosted. It can be a communal garden facility. For more information visit UK Cohousing.
This is a form of Community Led Housing where it is built (or renovated) and managed by members of a group, with democratic collective control, to influence the scheme and its management. The tenure would be shared ownership or affordable rent. For more information visit The Confederation of Co-operative Housing.
Community Custom and Self-build
This can be a form of Community Led Housing where there is a clear sense of community benefit, protected in perpetuity, from the development. This is where an individual or an association of individuals, or persons working with or for individuals or associations of individuals, build or complete houses to be occupied as homes by those individuals. For more information visit the National Custom and Self Build Association.
Community led housing can involve homes that are market sale, discount market sale, shared ownership, market rent, affordable rent, rent to buy, or a combination thereof. Its diversity is its strength and means that it can tackle a wide range of housing needs.
Community led housing can empower local communities, making them more resilient and able to address issues in their community, such as:
- Affordable housing;
- Need for downsizer accommodation;
- Ageing population / accessibility;
- First time buyers;
- Supporting community facilities; and
- Fuel poverty.
There is no standard approach for achieving community led housing. However, there are generally 5 stages to the ‘total process’ of community led housing:
Community led housing groups will not necessarily following the total process in a linear way and are likely to move between each of the stages at different times throughout the process.
Without a community group, there can be no community led housing. Groups may be new, or already exist. They may be formed by a collection of individuals, a parish council or even a developer looking to work in partnership with the community to deliver a project.
In the group stage it will be necessary to form a steering group, determine the group’s purpose, recruit members, form a delivery plan and become an incorporated legal entity.
Homes of Our Own can help and provide advice to people wishing to form a group through advice and funding. The project officers have experience in helping groups to establish and gaining access to funds.
Moving into the next stages the group will need to identify what skills they have, what skills they will need to develop, recruit, secure through partnership and procure. This will assist them through identifying their site and negotiating a land deal; designing the homes and obtaining the necessary consents such as planning permission; working through the construction (or renovation) of the homes and provision of associated infrastructure; and finally getting people into homes and managing those assets in perpetuity.
The Homes of Our Own officers have experience in helping groups to establish housing needs, recruit consultants, form partnerships, select sites, obtain planning advice and deliver workshops.
For more information on how Homes of Our Own can support you through your community led housing process, please visit Homes of Our Own.
Around the UK there are a number of examples of community led housing, for example there are over 800 co-op housing organisations alone. The community led sector is growing and in particular Wiltshire is experiencing a growth in the community land trust model.
Seend Community Land and Asset Trust is working to deliver an affordable housing project for the benefit of its parishioners. It has ambitions for wider development too so as to help address the need for downsizer accommodation within their villages. For more information visit Seend CLT.
Wilton Community Land Trust have formed a partnership with OurEnterprise and Redrow Homes and helped to shape and deliver the redevelopment of the redundant MoD’s Erskine Barracks site for over 400 homes. They have also organised the South Wiltshire Green Doors project and a small river clearance project. For more information visit Wilton CLT.
For more information about community led housing projects in Wiltshire, please visit Homes of Our Own.
There is funding available locally and nationally for Community Led Housing Groups at different stages of their development, from start-up to revenue and capital funding.
More information on national funding can be found on the Community Led Homes website:
Community Led Homes Funding Sources.
The Homes of Our Own team are available to talk you through the funding options available and more information can also be found on the Homes of Our Own website.
The Homes of Our Own team are here to help. If you have any queries, would like more information, or would like to arrange a meeting to discuss how we can help with your community’s housing needs please contact us by email or telephone:
You can also find out more by visiting the Homes of Our own website here.