How to get a community-led building project started

What kind of questions that should to be asked to ensure that a community-led building project is needed? We look at deciding whether to proceed with a project.

Key Questions

Successful community-led developments rely on a committed team with strong leadership, pursuing clear objectives that address identifiable needs. Many development projects fail to get off the ground or run into difficulties because their initiators have not answered some of the most basic questions:

  • Why is the development needed?
  • Who is it for?
  • What will it achieve and how?
  • Who needs to be involved?
  • Who will lead the project?
  • Who will manage the development when it is completed?

It is also worth considering if there is the drive and commitment to make it happen, by considering the following:

Community Engagement

Genuine community-led development is based around the needs and aspirations of the local community in the neighbourhood where the development is to take place. Ideally, the concept for the development and the principles that shape it will have been reached during a process of community engagement that begins in the earliest days of the project and is continued right through it.

Partners and Stakeholders

It is useful to identify and approach key local partners and stakeholders at an early stage. These are local organisations and individuals that have a particular interest in the local area or in the issues that are to be addressed.

Evidence

In order to inform the project development process and to reassure supporters, partners and potential funders, it is important that the project be underpinned by firm evidence.

Vision and Leadership

Once initial community engagement has been carried out and relevant evidence has been reviewed and collected, it is sensible to establish aims, objectives and a vision for the development.

Financial Viability

Groups should undertake a basic costing exercise in terms of the overall project, so they are aware of

Factors of a successful project

It is worth stating some of the key ingredients of successful projects right at the start:

  • Leadership, drive and commitment to make it happen
  • Clearly evidenced need and demand
  • Robust community and stakeholder engagement from the beginning
  • A clear project brief, developed in more detail as the project progresses
  • Stated objectives and goals to be delivered by the project
  • A viable, sustainable business plan
  • A clear project plan with costings and timelines
  • A selection of a suitable site or building
  • Access to finance or funding to progress the capital stage
  • An understanding and commitment to achieving quality in relation to building standards
  • Selection of a professional team with the necessary range of skills
  • Ability to respond to changing or unforeseen circumstances.
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