Community housing groups warn £300m fund at risk

Community land trusts (CLTs) and other groups are concerned the general election has put a crucial housing fund in jeopardy

Community groups have warned a £300m fund for new affordable housing projects is at risk as the political parties battle over spending pledges.

The National Community Land Trust Network, the UK Cohousing Network and the Confederation of Cooperative Housing have joined forces to urge the parties to commit to a five-year fund set up last year to boost their work.

The £300m Community Housing Fund was launched in December to provide small, community-led housing groups extra resources to scale-up ambitious building plans.

But these grassroots groups are worried the future of the fund is now in jeopardy.

Community-led housing has the potential to make a unique contribution to solving Britain’s housing crisis

The Big Issue has previously reported on the growth of community land trusts (CLTs) – organisations set up and run by ordinary people to build or restore homes for use by the community. There are now 225 CLTs with plans to build 3,000 homes by 2020.

The CLTs and others in the sector are also now concerned by a Conservative Party pledge to extend the “Right to Buy” policy, and how it might affect the subtle tenancy and ownership arrangements they have managed to establish on community developments.

In 2016, the sector was given “discretion” from the extension of Right to Buy to housing associations, but community housing groups are now pressing for a full exemption.

Catherine Harrington, director of the National CLT Network, said: “Community-led housing has the potential to make a unique contribution to solving Britain’s housing crisis, but it needs long-term political support in order to deliver a new generation of affordable homes across the country.

She added: “In the last year, real progress has been made, with the announcement of a £300m Community Housing Fund and ‘discretion’ from the Right to Buy, but the general election has put it all at risk.

“We’re now calling on all parties to commit to continue the Community Housing Fund for the next four years, and to exempt community housing groups from the Right to Buy.

“We look forward to working closely with the next government to promote community-led housing.”

Photo: the Lilac cooperative housing development in Leeds (Modcell)