A row of different coloured houses glowing in the sunset

There are various models for community-led organisations capable of developing diverse housing initiatives, and different sorts of model can attract different sorts of funding.

These are the most common types:

  • Development Trusts
  • Community Land Trusts
  • Cohousing
  • Co-operative Housing
  • Self-help Housing
  • Group or community self-build.

Development Trusts

Development trusts are independent, community-led, not-for-private-profit organisations concerned with the regeneration of a particular area or community. They seek to be self-sustaining though generating income from their own enterprises and through the ownership of assets. These organisations are eligible to become members of Locality in England and its sister organisations, the Development Trusts Associations for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. These organisations provide a range of resources including advice, events and direct support.

Community Land Trusts (CLTs)

These are community-led organisations that provide land, homes and other assets to meet the long-term needs of the community. They have a membership structure that is open to anyone who lives or works in the local area, whether or not they live in the properties the trust provides. CLTs deliver things like homes, as well as meeting spaces, workspaces, shops, pubs, farms and gardens. They hold these assets in trust for the benefit of the community and ensure that they remain permanently affordable and provide a long-term income stream.

The National CLT Network provides guidance, funding, toolkits and advice for anyone running or setting up a CLT. Also see CLT structure explanation here. In terms of a suitable legal framework this can vary as long as it meets the defining criteria (ie, an asset lock, open membership to community members and not-for-profit).


Cohousing is a concept that brings individuals and families together in groups to share common aims and activities while having their own self-contained accommodation and personal space. The combination of housing units and shared facilities helps bring neighbours together to collaborate and offers particular benefits for children, in terms of secure play space, and for older people in terms of mutual support.

Cohousing communities are set up and run by their members for mutual benefit. It can be developed for home ownership, shared ownership or both affordable and market rent.

The UK Cohousing Network provides a range of resources including advice, events and direct support. There is no one legal framework that needs to be adopted. A project could be a co-operative or a company limited by guarantee, or a CIC.

Co-operative Housing

A housing cooperative is a housing organisation that is controlled, managed and owned by its members. There are many forms in the UK, the most common being ‘ownership’ housing coops, where the community owns all the homes and rents them to tenant members. Most are ‘fully mutual’, meaning that all of their tenants are required to be members of the co-op and their governance structures consist entirely of tenant members. The Confederation of Co-operative Housing is open to co-operative housing organisations and others who support co-operative housing, and provides advice and support to community organisations, local authorities and housing associations.

Self-help Housing

This involves local community-led organisations procuring and renovating empty properties to make them habitable to rent or buy. It differs from self-build housing, which involves constructing new homes on vacant or cleared plots. Self-help housing projects are normally taken up by groups of people with particular housing needs, which are not being met by local authorities or housing associations, such as single people, young people and refugees.

Self Help Housing.org offers advice, case studies and a directory and location of over 120 organisations. There is no requirement to adopt a particular legal framework to engage in self-help housing.

Group or community self-build

Around 11,000 people a year build their own homes, a growing number of which choose to do so collectively, by forming their own private groups, forming co-operatives or by working in partnership with a housing association. The Self Build Portal provides help in understanding the ways groups can get self-build projects off the ground. The Community Self Build Agency helps groups manage and deliver their schemes and the National Self Build Association campaigns to make it easier for people to build their own homes.

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