“I’m joining with others across the sector to support the National Community Land Trust Network in its call to the government to take a longer-term, more sustainable view of its funding of community-led housing.” – Gary Hartin
For those interested in the housing world, the installation of the new Housing Minister, Christopher Pincher is worthy of note. Saying installation makes it sound like the newest software update for a smartphone, but, given the speed of change over the last few years, turnover in the housing hot seat at MHCLG far outstrips your average tech reboot.
This said, the change of leadership does provide a good opportunity to consider achievements and look to the future. For community-led housing, the last few years have seen a step change. Not only is the pipeline of homes growing all the time – currently 23,000 based on recent data – but the positive effects of community-led housing are becoming clearer too. In research from the Wales Co-operative Centre, it was confirmed that this type of home-building positively affected mental wellbeing, employability and led to a reduction in loneliness.
This picture of the good that community-led housing can do is the reason I’m joining with sector colleagues to call for a continuation of government funding.
As things stand, the Community Housing Fund came to an end in December with money left unspent. Designed to help increase the numbers of homes delivered, the fund granted money directly for housebuilding, but also supported the provision of professional services – such as planning advice. It’s concerning that this crucial support for community-led housing could be withdrawn just when it’s needed most.
Community-led housing isn’t the type of huge-scale development favoured by large national housebuilders. These aren’t the sprawling estates, built for highest-density and maximum profit. Far more often, community-led housing provides smaller numbers of homes which meet the needs of local people – in the sector, we call it ‘additional supply’ – providing homes that wouldn’t otherwise be built, for people whose needs wouldn’t otherwise be met. Picture the new homes built by Appledore Community Land Trust on the historic North Devon coast. There, nine new homes overlook the Torridge and Taw rivers, on a site that many traditional developers would have found too challenging. What’s more, all nine are now lived in by people with links to the village, purchased or rented at prices they can afford. Critically, grants from the Community Housing Fund, along with support from key stakeholders including our grant-holder Wessex Community Assets, ensured that these new homes could be built.
It’s this level of support that is crucial to the delivery of the homes we need, and it’s this support that will be sorely missed should the fund not be restarted after the budget on March 11th. I’m joining with others across the sector to support the National Community Land Trust Network in its call to the government to take a longer-term, more sustainable view of its funding of community-led housing. To join us, and for further information, click here.