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.