Highly successful introductory event for potential community-led housing groups in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough

On Thursday 20 January, Eastern Community Homes (ECH) hosted a highly successful event introducing parish councillors in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough to the concept of community-led housing.

The event was attended by representatives from 11 parish councils across the County interested in pursuing community-led housing in their community. The session began with a short presentation introducing the concept of community-led housing, providing examples of community-led housing in Cambridgeshire, and demonstrating the services Eastern Community Homes can provide.

Following this the Eastern Community Homes team facilitated an open discussion where two key themes were identified; how parish councils can access finance to undertake a project and how land can be accessed for a scheme. As part of these discussions, we spoke about the value of partnerships such as those with housing associations where it is possible to access the expertise and resources they can provide. This can be around grant funding housing associations receive from government. The ECH team also spoke about how market homes can be useful to bridge funding gaps as the profit made from these homes can then finance any shortfalls there might be between grant funding and the actual cost of building the homes.

Finding land is a common challenge faced by all types of community-led housing projects. With Community Land Trusts, the model most used by parish councils, there is often the need for them to be rural exception sites to allow the homes to be made available specifically for local people. The importance of working in partnership with others was recognised as well as the importance of local knowledge and networks. There can be circumstances where local landowners may have land they can make available for affordable homes which a community land trust could then pursue further on their own or in partnership with a developer or housing association.

Overall, the event allowed parish councils who might be interested in undertaking a community-led housing project to connect with Eastern Community Homes. Engaging with local parish councillors is a valuable experience as it can be used to understand in more detail some of the barriers that might be preventing communities from exploring community-led housing further. Eastern Community Homes uses this learning to tailor its advice and support to help overcome these.

If you would like to discuss a potential community-led housing project with Eastern Community Homes, then please contact us.