Community-led housing (CLH)

Last Updated: 3 April 2024

Community-led housing (CLH) is a way for local people to be involved in meeting their own housing needs. This could include new build, re-use of existing buildings and bringing empty homes back into use.

According to the Building and Social Housing Foundation, there are broadly three main ways community-led housing can be delivered:

  • group-led: when a group responds to housing need or demand, or people seeking to deliver their own homes
  • extension of community based activity: existing community based organisations with local roots decide to provide housing in addition to their current activities
  • developer, community partnership: a local authority/landowner/housing association or small builder wants to provide housing that benefits the local area in perpetuity. They access community-led housing expertise to recruit ‘founder members’ from within the community and support them to take over ownership/stewardship and/or management of the homes

Housing schemes that are genuinely community-led all share common principles:

  • the community is involved throughout the process in key decisions like what is provided, where, and for who. They don’t necessarily have to initiate the conversation, or build homes themselves
  • there is a presumption that the community group will take a long-term formal role in the ownership, stewardship or management of the homes
  • the benefits of the scheme to the local area and/or specified community group are clearly defined and legally protected in perpetuity

Community Housing Fund

In 2017, the Government provided us with £2.36 million of funding, known as the Community Housing Fund, to help tackle the problem of high levels of second home ownership. The fund can be used to enable the delivery of new community-led housing schemes.

There are two types of grant available from us:

  • CLH Capacity Building Grant
  • CLH Scheme Grant

CLH Capacity Building Grant

The purpose of this grant is to build capacity within local groups to provide them with the appropriate skills and resources to become a community-led housing organisation.

The funding could be used to provide the following:

  • developing practical skills and knowledge to deliver housing projects 
  • to help groups to establish themselves as community land trusts (CLTs) or other community-led organisations
  • assistance with seeking other sources of funding
  • providing specialist technical advice in terms of the various community-led housing options
  • housing need surveys

CLH Scheme Grant

The purpose of this grant is to assist with the initial costs (pre-construction) of working up a potential new housing scheme once a site has been identified. It provides an opportunity for adding to other sources of funding available to community-led housing groups. However, they are not intended to supplement other Council housing grants, such as those for Affordable Housing.

The funding could be used for the following purposes:

  • project scoping
  • project management (pre-construction)
  • securing an option to buy a site
  • land assembly (including de-risking land for development, master planning and securing planning permission)
  • assistance with seeking other sources of capital funding
  • contribution towards site acquisition costs where a shortfall exists from other funding sources

CLH Scheme Grants will normally only be made available to established community-led housing organisations, such as community land trusts.

The proposed project needs to provide good value for money and deliverability by demonstrating that:

  • costs and timescales have been researched and are realistic, for example through quotes or use of reliable data
  • other funding is available to meet total pre-construction costs of the project   
  • no other sources of funding are available to meet the amount that is being sought from us
  • a realistic plan is in place to raise funds for construction costs
  • the level of funding sought from us is justified
  • the grant per home presents good value for money, for example our maximum grant per home for Affordable Housing Grants is £20,000
  • the project or scheme has or is likely to obtain planning permission (if required)

Additional support

Find out more about community-led housing and support in this area by contacting the Community Led Housing Hub.

We can help with:

  • funding for existing groups
  • recoverable grants which can be provided to assist with short term cash flow issues