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£300m for community housing

Words: Laura Edgar
Community housing / iStock-507211233

Housing minister Alok Sharma has announced £300 million for the Community Housing Fund, initially announced in the 2016 Spring Budget by then chancellor George Osborne.

Speaking at the first National Community-Led Housing Conference yesterday (27 November), organised by National Community Land Trust (CLT) Network and UK Cohousing, Sharma said the new programme of funding will help to build thousands of more homes.

“Worth £60 million in the first year alone, it will provide both capital and revenue funding, with flexibility to meet demand.

“A significant element of the funding will also go towards developing an advisory network that supports community groups to bring forward projects.”

Community-led housing comprises a number of approaches including housing co-ops, community land trusts and cohousing.

Proposals put forward by the National CLT Network, UK Cohousing and partners will now inform the next four years of the Fund’s design.

The government released the first £60 million in December 2016, with the relaunch of the fund amounting to £240 million.

Sharma said the government will soon publish a prospectus that sets out the criteria for bids, with January seeing applications invited from community groups and registered providers.

He added that the newly renamed Homes England (formerly the Homes and Communities Agency) will assess the bids, with the intention to announce the first allocations “as soon as Easter”.

Baroness Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville MBE, chair of the National CLT Network said: “The Community-Led Housing movement is about to break through to the mainstream, with more and more communities across the country wanting to actively lead in building high quality homes to address their housing needs.

“Not only will the Community Housing Fund help to transform the movement – it will transform lives.”

Sharma also announced that he will set up an advisory group to steer the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) on the delivery of the programme.

Stephen Hill, chair of UK Cohousing said an advisory board will be a great opportunity for the community-led housing sector and the DCLG “to work together closer still”.

Tom Kenny, policy officer at the RTPI, told The Planner: “Solving the housing crisis means diversifying the housebuilding market and community led housing is a part of this. Furthermore, community led housing can deliver popular schemes that meet the needs of local people, whether this is particular needs like housing for older people or long-term affordable housing. We welcome this extension of the Community Housing Fund and hope it will help expand the number of projects around the country.”

Image credit | iStock