Homes of Our Own is the community-led housing hub covering Wiltshire and Swindon. It is a partnership between Swindon Borough council and the following:
Homes of Our Own aims to enable and support community groups to deliver housing development that provides defined community benefits which are protected for the future. The project also aims to provide a legacy for community-led development which is helping to build stronger and more resilient communities.
It supports and enables groups seeking to deliver alternative solutions to their community housing needs. We offer support to assist with the work associated with setting up a community-led housing group, and to enable community led housing projects. We also support community groups working in a developer-community partnership. We can provide 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. However, it is not exclusively about delivering affordable housing as defined in the National Planning Policy Framework.
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.
- the benefits to the local area and/or specified community must be clearly defined and legally protected for the future
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.
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 website.
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 website.
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 website.
Community custom and self-build
This can be a form of community-led housing where there is a clear sense of community benefit, protected for the future, 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 website.
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 of all. 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 and accessibility
- first time buyers
- supporting community facilities
- fuel poverty
There is no standard approach for achieving community-led housing. However, there are generally 5 stages to the ‘total process’: group, site, plan, build, live.
Community-led housing groups will not necessarily follow 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 provide advice and funding for people wishing to form a group. The project officers have experience in helping groups to establish and gain access to funds.
The group will need to identify what skills they have to develop, recruit and secure community-led housing through partnership and procurement. This will assist them in identifying their site and negotiating a land deal, designing the homes and obtaining the necessary consents such as planning permission. It will also help them to work through the construction (or renovation) of the homes and the provision of associated infrastructure, finally getting people into homes and managing those assets for the long-term.
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.
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.
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.
Start up grants
Homes of Our Own has a grant funding programme for new and emerging groups, this set-up funding which will be available to groups that have not received funding from previous community led housing grant programmes in Wiltshire and Swindon. The grants are to cover community led housing project set-up costs, up to £2,000, including but not limited to:
- forming a community organisation
- training sessions for members of the management team
- registration fees for the use of online meeting platforms such as Zoom
- costs associated with community engagement, member recruitment and project consultation, including publicity materials
- costs of incorporation, membership of a national body, registration with the Financial Conduct Authority, registration with the Information Commissioner’s Office and insurance
More detail of the start-up grant can be found on the resources area of the Homes of Our Own website. Groups who wish to apply for the funding, administered by Wiltshire Council, can do so between April and December 2021 and should email CommunityLedHousing@wiltshire.gov.uk for an application form and terms and conditions.
More information on national funding can be found on the Community-Led Homes - Get Funding 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, contact us by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone: 01380 732801.
More information can also be found on the Homes of Our Own website.