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 usually for a democratic community membership organisation
  2. is controlled (and in some cases owned) by a local democratic community membership organisation

Who’s it for?

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

  • for people on different income levels
  • for particular groups of people
  • for different tenures (ie. renting, owning, or asset sharing)
  • for building new homes or buying and adapting existing residential or other buildings
  • for managing existing homes, with the possibility of ownership.

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:

A group of people come together to make it happen:

  1. Some of the strongest co-operative and community-led housing organisations have been developed by grass roots communities coming together to make things happen.
  2. A community group taking the responsibility to tackle the challenges leads to bonds being formed in the group that can lead to a strong community.
  3. The community group taking the lead means that it will have more control over decisions about what homes are developed.
  4. 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.
  5. A community group developing a CCLH scheme will usually want to get local authority support.
  6. A community group developing a CCLH scheme could make things easier by working with a housing association or some other developer. However, this might bring challenges around who has overall control of the homes developed.
  7. A community group that wants to take the responsibility for developing a CCLH scheme may find guidance produced by Locality particularly useful. They may also be able to get advice from other national support organisations and from existing CCLH organisations.

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:

  1. An existing community organisation may decide it wants to develop CCLH. A housing co-op or a tenant management organisation may want to increase the number of homes available.  A development trust or another community organisation may want to extend what it does for its local community and create a stable rental income.
  2. Existing community organisations may employ staff who will be able to assist in progressing a CCLH scheme. Housing co-ops or TMOs who buy services from service providers may be able to get assistance through them.
  3. An existing community organisation developing a CCLH scheme can extend their community-led ethos to the new homes. They will also have a track record of community-led governance and potentially assets that can be used.
  4. An existing community organisation developing a CCLH scheme will usually want to get local authority support.
  5. An existing community organisation developing a CCLH scheme may choose to work with a housing association or some other developer, but this might bring different challenges.
  6. Existing Community Organisations that want to take the responsibility for developing a CCLH scheme will find this guidance and guidance produced by Locality particularly useful.

Examples of existing community organisation:

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

A local authority, housing association or other organisation decide to set up a CCLH scheme and recruit the founder members as homes are developed:

  1. A local authority, housing association, another organisation, and/or a combination of these organisations may decide that it wishes to set up a CCLH scheme.
  2. The partners involved can decide that a housing scheme it is developing will be CCLH. This is how most of the UK’s CCLH schemes were developed.
  3. This approach means that the initiating organisation has to recruit and develop founder members to form a CCLH group during the development period.
  4. It also means that the organisation needs to be prepared to enable the CCLH group to take power over decision-making about how the housing will be managed.
  5. If done right, this method of developing CCLH can lead to value for money management as well as provide considerable benefits for the community housed.
  6. This approach leads to individuals participating who otherwise might not get to hear about or be interested in CCLH options.
  7. This guidance is, in part, particularly aimed at providing information on this type of approach.  A local authority, housing association or other organisation interested in Top Down Meets Bottom Up will find this guidance particularly useful.

Examples of top down meets bottom up:

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