Community led housing

Community led housing

Community led housing

Community-led housing (CLH) is about local people playing a leading and lasting role in solving local housing problems.
What is Community Led Housing (CLH)?
The national organisations representing the community-led housing sector have agreed on what constitutes a community-led housing scheme. It can be summarised as follows:
  • A requirement that meaningful community engagement and consent occurs throughout the process. The community does not necessarily have to initiate and manage the development process, or build the homes themselves, though some may do 
  • The local community group or organisation owns, manages or stewards the homes and in a manner of their choosing
  • A requirement that the benefits to the local area and/or specified community must be clearly defined and legally protected in perpetuity e.g. through an asset lock
Most community-led housing has five main features:
  • It is often small scale – in rural areas, most schemes are under 20/25 homes and some are smaller; in urban areas some much larger schemes are now being promoted and delivered
  • Schemes are usually set up and run by local people in their own communities, often with external support from housing associations, local authorities or regional and national support organisations
  • It provides genuinely affordable homes for rent, shared ownership or sale on sites that are often difficult for mainstream housing providers to develop
  • Schemes meet long-term local housing needs, by the community retaining a legal and/or financial interest in the homes provided and ensuring they are always available to local people who need them
  • Community-led housing is not for profit, involving considerable voluntary effort
Having said that, some community-led housing schemes are based around groups of people coming together to foster community living and these may not require subsidy, meet local housing needs or be not-for-profit.
Community-led housing comes in many different forms – there are no standard, off-the-shelf approaches, but they can include:
Community Land Trusts provide affordable homes for local people in need – for rent or shared ownership - by acquiring land and holding it as a community asset in perpetuity
Housing Co-operatives involve groups of people who provide and collectively manage, on a democratic membership basis, affordable homes for themselves as tenants or shared owners
Cohousing schemes involve groups of like-minded people who come together to provide self-contained, private homes for themselves, but manage their scheme together and share activities, often in a communal space
Tenant management organisations provide social housing tenants with collective responsibility for managing and maintaining the homes through an agreement with their council or housing association landlord
Self-help housing projects involve small, community-based organisations bringing empty properties back into use, often without mainstream funding and with a strong emphasis on construction skills training and support
Community self-build schemes involve groups of local people in housing need building homes for themselves with external support and managing the process collectively. Individual self-build is not widely regarded as community-led housing. The National Custom and Self Build Association is the national voice for self-builders. It has a Right to Build Toolkit for self-builders which can be found here:
Community development trusts and community ‘anchors’ are independent, often well-established community-led organisations operating in a local area. They are focused on a range of economic, social and environmental issues; some are now involved in community-led housing provision
There are overlaps between these different approaches; for example, some cohousing schemes operate as co-operatives and some community land trusts include self-build in their schemes.
Useful links
Each community-led housing approach has its own national umbrella body that promotes and supports the sector.

Further information on the different types of community structures is available by clicking here.

Parish Councils can get involved in a variety of ways if they want to help in the delivery of community led housing.  The Rural Housing Alliance, in conjunction with the Rural Services Network, produced a useful Parish Council Guide to Affordable Housing in 2014 which is available by following this link: Affordable Rural Housing: A Practical Guide for Parish Councils


Community-led housing is already a success story in Northumberland. Here are some examples of how local people have delivered homes to meet the needs of their community.  Glendale Gateway Trust,  Holy Island of Lindisfarne Community Development TrustStocksfield Community Association Trading Arm and Haltwhistle Partnershp

Northumberland County Council can provide guidance and assistance to groups interested in bringing forward community led housing schemes. Just over £1.3m was awarded to the council in 2017 from the Government’s Community Housing Fund.

The Council has developed a Community Housing Fund Policy which provides the framework for administering the fund. Applications for funding cover 3 stages:
  • Stage 1 - Community Development/Scheme Set-Up - funding is  available for a range of activities, for example to develop a group so that it has legal status to undertaken community consultation and to establish if there is a need for affordable housing in the local area;
  • Stage 2 - Scheme Feasibility - funding is available  to establish whether the proposed housing development is feasible to deliver and financially viable in the long-term.  Eligible activities include business planning, site assessments, architectural drawings and acquiring planning permission; 
  • Stage 3 - Housing Development - funding is available  to help towards the cost of purchasing a site or building and to carry out the build or refurbishment costs.
The stage your group applies for is dependent on the circumstances specific to your proposed development. For example, a fully incorporated community group with evidence of community support and housing need will not need Stage 1 funding Here’s two examples of community led housing projects that have been funded by the council’s CHF in Wooler and Embleton.

Help is also available from Communities CAN North East (CCAN). CCAN is the North of Tyne support hub for community led housing. Members of CCAN are there to help you with your community led housing project. More information is available at: 

For further information on how to apply for the council’s Community Housing Fund grant please contact  Jodie Saynor, Development Officer, on 07816 110 333 or email

You must agree to the Council's Terms & Conditions when  receiving  grant. As part of the funding agreement, you must provide regular updates on your project and evidence all work undertaken.