Last week I attended ‘An introduction to community-led housing for professionals’ at The Foundry in Vauxhall (designed by Architecture 00), hosted by Community Led Homes. The set up was different to a standard talk and was organised around a series of group discussions and focused questions – which led to a much more interactive and productive afternoon. Leah Eatwell and Tom Beale ran the session, both working as project managers on community-led schemes for Ecomotive, and Chris Carthy, architect and project manager, who is working on projects for RUSS, Crystal Palace CLT and Bright and Hove CLT.
The talk started by giving a brief description into the many possible ways of delivering community-led housing:
- Housing Co-operative: ‘A Legal entity that provides housing, controlled cooperatively by the residents, who are the members of the co-op’
- Community Land Trust (CLT): ‘A non-profit community controlled body that is created to hold land, buildings or other assets for the benefit of the community’
- Cohousing: ‘Each household has its own private space as well as shared community spaces such as a common house, open spaces and shared resources, which are collectively managed by residents’
- Tenants Management Association: ‘An organisation which allow residents of council housing or housing association homes to take over responsibility for the running of their homes’
- Self-Build / Self-Finish: ‘Creating an individual home for oneself, ranging from doing the actual building work oneself, contracting out all the work to an architect or building firm, or a mix of the two’
- Group Self-Build: ‘A group of self-builders collaborating to build their homes together, in order to reduce costs, share skills, help collective management of the project or collaborate on the process of construction’
- Registered Provider of Social Housing: ‘Non-profit organisation which provide affordable social housing, that are registered with the Regulator of Social Housing’.
They stressed the key principles of community-led housing being:
- The community is integrally involved throughout the process in key decisions like what is provided, where and for who
- The community benefits – the benefits of the scheme to the local area and/or specified community group are clearly defined and legally protected in perpetuity
- The community has a long-term role in the ownership, stewardship or management of the homes.
Most of the discussions after this point were around the benefits of a community-led housing scheme and how there are systems in place to ensure the housing stays affordable long term. This could be with regards to re-sale clauses, but also including lower running costs and more control/influence over environmental sustainability aims of a project. Another benefit raised was that some schemes can de-risk a project with having specific buyers already lined up and engaged with the proceedings.