Community-Led housing projects

There is no conclusive definition of Community Led-Housing (CLH), it can take a variety of forms. However, it is the process of meaningful community engagement and consent that sets community-led housing apart from other housing development projects. CLH groups and organisations across the country have adopted the following principles:

  • Meaningful community engagement and consent takes place throughout the process. Communities do not necessarily have to initiate the conversation or build homes themselves
  • There is a presumption that the community group or organisation will take a long-term formal role in the ownership, stewardship or management of the homes.
  • The benefits to the local area and/or specified community are clearly defined and legally protected in perpetuity.

So long as it follows these principles, CLH can produce a host of different housing types and tenures.  It can be homes for families, working people or older people; blocks for multiple occupation; sheltered housing; housing for rent, owner-occupation, shared ownership; and anything in between or beyond. It can be delivered through different routes, from self-build through to working in partnership with a housing association or developer.

Community Land Trusts (CLTs)

CLTs are legal entities set up to develop and manage homes and protect assets of community value including affordable homes, workspace and green space. CLTs use legal structures such as covenants to provide long-term affordable housing, often by linking prices to local income or setting prices at a proportion of market rate.  CLT's ensure the local community is involved from the beginning of the process and throughout the whole development process.

Take a look at the London Community Land Trust and the projects they have completed with local communities London CLT


Cohousing communities are organised to foster mutual support, drawing on the skills and resource of residents to contribute to life in the scheme. In most schemes, each household is self-contained, but residents come together to manage communal areas and share decision-making through a legally defined arrangement. 

Cohousing groups/organisations are often set up by people from the community who want sustainable affordable housing that has a sense of cooperation and ownership, for themselves, and future tenants.  They often incorporate elements of responsibility to the surrounding community and environment.

There are many examples of successful cohousing schemes

  • OWCH in Barnet North London OWCH was established in the early 1990's.
  • Bridport Cohousing Bridport Cohousing CLT are in the process of developing their housing scheme.

Co-operative and mutual housing

In housing co-operatives, homes are managed and/or owned by members of the co-op. Residents are required or encouraged to become members and participate in management and decision-making. Co-operatives are similar to cohousing in focusing on mutual support, cohesion and communal activities.

A great example of a community group that came together to build the affordable housing they could not source in their area, who then became a Housing Co-operative is Bunker Housing: 

Bunker Self-Build Housing Co-op - Facebook page

Self-help housing:

This involves a group of people repairing and bringing empty properties back into use, usually with the help of volunteers. The model was popularised under the Empty Homes Community Grants programme, which saw 1,297 affordable homes refurbished.

Canopy Canopy - Self-help housing for the homeless in Leeds and Giroscope are two separate housing charities that have been training homeless and vulnerable people to renovate abandoned properties for decades.

They are pioneers of the UK movement which has now grown to more than 100 self-help organisations. In 2016 theses two organisations won a UN World Habitat Award celebrating their efforts and contribution to tackling the housing crisis.

How to Set Up a Community-Led Housing Project

To arrange a chat about the possibilities for your group and/or community, with no ties, commitments or obligations send an email to