Right to Build Task Force offers free support to five community-led housing groups

Following a call for applications in the Summer, five community-led housing groups have been awarded free packages of targeted support by the Right to Build Task Force, the national body working to deliver more opportunities for Custom Build homes in the UK.

The free support is a reflection of the Right to Build Task Force’s commitment to work with a range of community-led housing initiatives. The awards for the five winning groups comes in the form of targeted advice, helping each group progress to the next stage of their project as they work towards their goal of delivering a tailored community development.

Community-led housing is a massive growth area in the UK, as people are increasingly working to create homes that the open market is frequently not delivering. In fact, UK Cohousing1 reports that in the UK there are now 21 built cohousing developments, with over 50 groups working to deliver projects, while the National Community Land Trust Network2 reports that there are 290 Community Land Trusts in England and Wales alone.

The winning groups are:

Clachan Cohousing Development Group – a multi-generational eco-housing group in Glasgow.
Kent Cohousing – a group working towards delivering sustainable, affordable cohousing for all ages.
Still Green Cohousing – a cohousing group for over-50s, working on projects in Milton Keynes and Bicester.
Plymouth Energy Community (PEC) – working to deliver new affordable housing projects.
Alderley Edge Neighbourhood Planning Group – working to include Self-build and Custom Build in its Neighbourhood Plan.

The majority of groups will be using their time to support design and construction workshops, setting out the financial parameters around indicative site layouts and appraisals, and feasibility studies. Support will also be given around creating business plans and project briefs.

The Right to Build Task Force wants to encourage more cohousing, Community Land Trust and neighbourhood groups to consider it as vital source of help. Support is based on a consultancy approach, offered at a discount to community-led housing groups.

How can the Right to Build Task Force help?

  • Facilitating training events about Custom and Self Build housing and how to deliver it,
  • Enabling neighbourhood planning initiatives, such as the preparation of planning policies and proposals to bring forward serviced building plots,
  • General advice, such as understanding local demand, selecting suitable sites, preparing planning applications and sourcing professional services.

First steps for all community-led housing groups

Anyone looking to set up their own community-led housing group should first sign up to the Right to Build registers in the areas they are considering by visiting the Right to Build Portal: www.righttobuildportal.org
This is important to ensure that their group is known to their local authority and that it is willing and able to support the group in its search for suitable land.

The Right to Build registers are a vital tool as they give local authorities evidence of demand for custom homes locally, helping them to permission sufficient plots for those on the registers.

Mario Wolf, Director of the Right to Build Task Force, said, “The Right to Build Task Force is committed to working with more community-led housing groups. Custom or Self Build housing enables communities to build more affordable better designed homes for local people which suit their particular needs.

“I would encourage all groups who think they could benefit from our help to contact us and urge them to sign up to their local Right to Build registers so that local authorities can take their needs into account when making land available through their plans and strategies.”

Dr Phil McGeevor, Vice Chair, UK Cohousing Network, said, “We are delighted that a further three cohousing groups are being supported by the Right to Build Task Force. It will assist them in the co-design of their future homes and their vision to create communities that address issues of neighbourliness and loneliness, as well as innovative and sustainable self-build ideas. We hope these will show the way for many other groups building intentional communities that will benefit their local area.”

Right to Build Expos in November

Professionals and community groups in the North of England interested in finding out about the Right to Build Task Force’s work should sign up the Right to Build Expo: Unlocking the potential of Custom and Self Build on 1 November (Warrington) or 29 November (Leeds). These are the latest in a series of regional events showcasing the Task Force’s knowledge and experience in the Custom and Self Build housing sector, and are free for community-led housing groups.

Cheshire Expo
Leeds Expo


Right to Build Task Force:

The Right to Build Task Force was launched in February 2017 with the aim of helping at least 80 Local Authorities, community groups and other organisations across the UK deliver significantly more affordable Custom and Self Build housing projects. A NaCSBA initiative, the Task Force has received funding from the Nationwide Foundation, which aims to increase the availability of decent affordable homes for people in housing need.

Since its launch the Task Force has received significant interest for support from organisations nationwide. The Task Force has been working with a wide range of organisations, including Buckinghamshire Advantage on the delivery of 165 plots as part of the 1,100 home Aylesbury Woodlands site; advice to North Northamptonshire councils on Self Build housing opportunities at the planned Tresham Garden Village and across the wider North Northamptonshire area; Fareham Borough Council on Custom and Self Build opportunities for the planned Welborne Garden Village in Hampshire and is piloting a new long-term evidence tool for Custom and Self Build with Teignbridge District Council and local authorities in Greater Exeter in association with Three Dragons Limited.

The Task Force is already supporting several community groups, such as the London Older Lesbian Cohousing (LOLC) group, which is working to create an intentional and innovative community of 20-25 homes together with communal living spaces.
The Task Force is endorsed by the Government in its White Paper Fixing our broken housing market and is supported by several partners including World Habitat, Local Government Association, Homes England, National Housing Federation, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and Royal Town Planning Institute.

With its emphasis on scale and housing affordability, the Task Force is able to offer subsidised support for local authorities and community groups, to enable them to identify the best way they can meet the demand on their Right to Build registers, as well as market-rate advice to a range of stakeholders.

Biographies of all the Right to Build Task Force Ambassadors and Experts can be found at www.righttobuildtoolkit.org.uk

Right to Build registers:

NaCSBA issued a Freedom of Information request to all English Local Authorities on 1st November 2017 requesting the numbers of people and groups of people on their registers. It found that 33,000 had now signed up to the registers. This was based on the data supplied by more than three quarters of the authorities who responded. The remaining results were extrapolated based on the average of the responses received.

The legal context:
The ‘Right to Build’ places two legal obligations on Local Authorities in England:

1. Under the Self Build and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015 all Local Authorities in England must keep a register of people and groups of people who are seeking to purchase serviced plots of land in the authority’s area and to have regard to that register when carrying out their functions. Registers were required from 1st April 2016.

2. The Housing and Planning Act 2016 requires all Local Authorities in England to grant sufficient ‘development permissions’ to meet the demand for Custom and Self Build housing in their area, as established by their register, on a rolling basis. Permissions equivalent to the number of people on the register from 1st April 2016 to 31st October 2016 should be granted by 31st October 2019. Permissions equivalent to the number of people on the register from 31st October 2016 to 31st October 2017 should be granted by 31st October 2020 and so on.

Under the National Planning Policy Framework local planning authorities need to assess the demand for people who want to build their own homes (Custom and Self Build housing) and use their Local Plans to meet such demand.

About NaCSBA:

The National Custom and Self Build Association (NaCSBA) is the voice for the Custom and Self Build industry across the UK. Its mission is to substantially increase the number of people able to build or commission their own home. NaCSBA estimates that over 13,000 Custom and Self Build homes were built last year, but it shares the Government’s ambition to deliver 20,000 homes by 2020. More details about NaCSBA can be found at www.nacsba.org.uk

UK Cohousing

UK Cohousing is a membership organisation with a mission to enable communities to use the cohousing principles to create better places to live by reducing isolation and loneliness, and by sharing facilities and services reduce living costs. Its focus is to make cohousing more accessible, and to help shape the policy and public funding environment to achieve this goal. Visit www.cohousing.org.uk

National Community Land Trust Network

The Community Land Trust Network is the official charity supporting Community Land Trusts in England and Wales. It provides funding, resources, training and advice for CLTs and works with Government, local authorities, lenders and funders to establish the best conditions for CLTs to grow and flourish.
Visit www.communitylandtrusts.org.uk

Clachan Cohousing Development Group
Kent Cohousing
Still Green Cohousing
“Plymouth Energy Community (PEC)”: https://plymouthenergycommunity.com
Alderley Edge Neighbourhood Planning Group
Email Duncan Hayes to contact any of the groups individually.

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