1. Getting started

Providing an overview about how to start your co-op homes journey.

See this page in: Cymraeg

The start of your co-operative and community-led housing (CCLH) journey – providing an overview of the basics and the different ways of setting one up.

People all over the UK are talking about co-operative and community-led housing (CCLH). People in communities, people in existing community groups, people in local authorities, people in housing associations, people in the English and Welsh Governments.

There are different ways to develop CCLH. That’s what makes it successful. It’s about people best meeting housing needs, considering local issues and resources available and using bespoke methods to develop a scheme right for them. No two CCLH schemes are quite the same.

Co-operative and community-led housing is:

  1. developed by, with and for a democratic community membership organisation
  2. is controlled (and in some cases owned) by a local community organisation

Who’s it for?

Co-operative and Community-Led Housing can be for everyone:

  • for people on different income levels
  • for people wanting to rent or buy
  • for building new homes or adapting existing buildings
  • for managing existing homes
  • for groups of people with shared values and beliefs.

Developing housing schemes take time.  People involved may have to devote several years from when they have the initial idea of a scheme to when people move into new homes.

But the rewards are high.  People who have been involved in developing new CCLH rarely regret it.  There are fantastic new CCLH schemes being developed all over the country.

Ways and means

There are three general ways that CCLH schemes are developed, all three of which can produce strong CCLH schemes:

Some of the strongest co-operative and community-led housing organisations have been developed by grass roots communities coming together to make things happen, which results in:

  1. Bonds being formed in the group that can lead to a strong community.
  2. The group having have more control over decisions about what homes are developed.

But it can be very challenging doing things this way, and it relies on there being some particularly driven individuals being involved. It can take a long time to make it happen and a number of challenges will need to be overcome.  However, various support is available.

A community group developing a CCLH scheme could make things easier by working with a housing association, a local authority or some other developer. However, this might bring challenges around who has overall control of the homes developed.

Examples of grass roots:

  1. Lilac, Leads
  2. Ashley Vale, Bristol
  3. Cohousing, Lancaster

An existing housing co-operative, development trust or another community organisation develops a CCLH scheme e.g. a housing co-op or a tenant management organisation may want to increase the number of homes available. Or a development trust or another community organisation may want to extend what it does for its local community and create a stable rental income.

Existing community organisations will have a track record and potential assets that can be used, which make accessing finance easier. They also may employ staff who will be able to assist in progressing a CCLH scheme. rather than relying on volunteers.

Examples of existing community organisation:

  1. Bushbury Arms, Wolverhampton
  2. Marlfield, Redditch
  3. Langrove Co-op, Merseyside

Many CCLH schemes across Wales and the UK have been developer-led.  A local authority, housing association or combination of organisations decide to set up a CCLH scheme, which usually involves;

  1. the developing organisation havs access to funding and resources to be able to develop a CCLH scheme
  2. the initiating organisation has to recruit and develop founder members to form a CCLH group during the development period.
  3. organisation needs to be prepared to enable the CCLH group to take power over decision-making about how the housing will be managed
  4. usually the developing organisation retains the freehold of the homes.

If done right, this method of developing CCLH can lead to better value for money for the developing organisation as well as providing considerable benefits for the residents.

Examples of top down meets bottom up:

  1. Old Oak Housing Co-op, Carmarthen
  2. Overton Road Group, Preston