Guide to Alternative Housing

 This guide has been written by Martin James and those local to Haslemere that read the Haslemere Herald may be familiar with his informative letters to the paper.  see for example Know your AGLV from your SSI, CLT and Green Belt?

Alternative Housing – A Simple Guide

While everyone is familiar with properties being advertised for sale in an estate agent’s window, or the traditional council housing as supplied by a local authority, fewer know of and understand the wide range of other housing provision available today. Here is a sector breakdown in summary.

Community-led housing. Meaningful community engagement and consent takes place throughout the process as small-scale developments are set up and run by local people. The local group or organisation owns, manages or stewards the homes and in a manner of their choosing. The benefits to the locality or particular community have to be clearly defined and legally protected in perpetuity, for example, through an asset lock. Community-led housing meets long-term need, is not-for-profit and supplies genuinely affordable dwellings for rent, sale or shared ownership. An umbrella term for much of what follows. 

Community land trust. Also known as a CLT, these are set up and run by ordinary people to develop and manage homes as well as other assets important to that community. For example, a local pub or shop that is at risk of closure, or the provision of local workspaces. CLTs act as long-term stewards of those assets and in the case of housing, ensure that it remains genuinely affordable not just for now but in perpetuity.

Housing co-operative. Formed of groups of people who provide and collectively manage, on a democratic membership basis, affordable homes for themselves as tenants or shared owners.

Cohousing. Communities that are created and run by the people who live in them come into this category. Each household has their own home as well as shared community space. The residents collaborate on managing their community, share activities and regularly eat together. Cohousing is seen as a way of tackling isolation and creating neighbourly support. 

Collaborative self and custom build. This entails groups building their own homes together. Custom build homes are self build homes facilitated in some way by a developer. 

Take-up is low in Britain compared with most other countries, but councils are required to deliver self-build and custom build homes under the Self and Custom Build Housing Act of 2015.

Housing association. Officially classified as “registered social landlords”, and often large and regional rather than hyper-local, HAs are not-for-profit organisation that own, let and manage rental housing. Revenue raised from rents is ploughed back into the acquisition and maintenance of property.

Tenant management organisation. These provide social housing tenants with collective responsibility for managing and maintaining the homes through an agreement with their council or housing association landlord.

Over 3,500 community led homes at risk

A Freedom of Information request has revealed that Over 3,500 community led homes at risk if Government doesn’t put things right.

Late last year the National CLT Network submitted a Freedom of Information request to Homes England. This revealed that there are over 3,500 community led homes in the Community Housing Fund pipeline. This is an exciting prospect considering it’s been less than nine months since the fund was opened. But many could be scuppered unless the Community Housing Fund is extended.

The Community Housing Fund, outside of London, is due to close for bids in December 2019. Most of the groups bringing forward those 3,500 homes will need access to capital funding for their affordable homes into next year and beyond, if they’re to get those homes completed.

The number might seem small in the scheme of things. But these are homes being developed to meet very particular needs communities. They matter, and the people behind them will be devastated if the Government pulls the rug from under them.

Groups building standard types of affordable housing like affordable rent and shared ownership will still be able to bid for the mainstream affordable homes funding. But innovative approaches won’t qualify, and new groups will lose access to unique revenue funding to develop their plans. Frankly, ending the Fund so quickly will be a farce!

The National CLT Network lobbied for and secured this fund in 2016. After a rocky start, it helped the Government design the current programme, and persuade them to aim not just to build some homes but to grow the community led housing movement. The network is steadily building the expertise and capacity in communities and the wider housing industry for this to be much more mainstream.

It was always envisioned that this would be a five-year fund. That would give groups the time to develop their projects, and the sector time to grow, But delays have meant this part of the Fund will only be open to bids for 18 months. A turnaround time like this would be tricky for seasoned housing developers never mind CLTs, which are mostly powered by volunteers. This isn’t taking into consideration the quite lengthy process to register as a social housing provider, which some CLTs may decide to go through.

Last week, London’s Community Housing Fund was announced. The GLA operates separate systems to Homes England, and they’ve done a fantastic job adapting the fund to the capital. The news was all the sweeter because in London the Fund stays open until 2023. Great news for Londoners, but not very fair for groups in the rest of England.

The Haslemere CLT has written to our local Member of Parliament, Jeremy Hunt.

Christmas Fair 2017 – The CLT were there

The Haslemere Community Land Trust had a stall at the Haslemere Christmas Fair 2017 – half way between the Haslemere Bookshop and Hemmingways (which might make fans of 20th century literature smile!).

Many visitors were able to learn all about the trust and a very encouraging number even joined on the spot.

Our team wore their special CLT  t-shirts, despite the chilly weather!

Sunday 3rd December 2017. Haslemere Town Centre 10am – 4pm