Building your own community housing is not just a pipedream…

Posted on the 8th September 2016

Up to £50,000 available to help community groups develop local housing

If your community needs specific types of housing – perhaps for older people, young families or other local people unable to get on the housing ladder – consider this: community groups can, and are, building homes themselves. And they are doing it with fantastic results.

No longer is local house building the preserve of commercial developers or housing associations. In recent years – and largely thanks to Neighbourhood Planning – local people have come to understand that they can take control of what is built on their doorsteps, and that building homes themselves is not only achievable, but desirable.

It allows communities to make detailed decisions about the specific types of housing to be built and, depending on the form of development they follow, it can bring income into hard-pressed communities through renting out the homes. It can also solve particular local problems, such as smaller units for older people wishing to downsize without leaving their neighbourhoods.

There is support and funding available right now through the government’s Community Buildings programme. The Pre-feasibility fund pays up to £10,000 to check viability, while the bigger Project Support Fund offers up to £40,000 to take groups through to the submission of a planning permission. The relevant forms, guidance and more information are available on the My Community website.

The same funding is available to groups who want to develop community buildings projects, such as community halls, though in these cases, groups need to be working towards the submission of a Community Right to Build Order.

It may sound daunting but, in reality, building a small scale housing development is much like any other community assets endeavour. It starts with a vision, moves forward with determination, planning and commitment, and it is powered by financial support. Many of the groups currently starting housing projects don’t have a background in housing – they just want to do something positive for the local community.

If you are considering setting a community-led housing project, contact Locality to talk over the options or arrange to visit another development. Email lyn.kesterton@locality.org.uk

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