Task Force offers free community-led housing support

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Five community-led housing organisations are set to benefit from free support thanks to the Right to Build Task Force, which is offering up to five days of tailored expert advice to groups working to deliver their own group project.

The Task Force has set aside funding for the work to enable its panel of Experts to support up to five suitable projects on a time-limited basis, at no cost to the selected groups.

In terms of the Task Force’s fee structure, this advice is worth a total of up to £2,500 and will make a genuine contribution to facilitating the delivery of more Custom and Self Build community-led housing opportunities. The advice is offered completely free and would cost considerably more if the time were to be purchased an open-market consultancy basis.

The funding reflects one of the Right to Build Task Force’s core target areas of growing community-led housing. The free packages of advice will support five groups as they progress to the next stage of their goal of meeting their own affordable housing needs, in their own way.

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 and 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.”

How can the Right to Build Task Force help?

Advice will be tailored to the individual community-led housing groups, but could include:

  • Facilitating workshops or training events to help build a better understanding of what Custom and Self Build housing is and how it can be delivered,
  • Enabling neighbourhood planning initiatives, such as the preparation of planning policies and proposals and neighbourhood development orders to bring forward serviced building plots,
  • Understanding local demand, selecting suitable sites and support in preparing planning applications and planning, and
  • Advice on appointing professional services.

The free advice equates to up to five working days’ of support by one of the Right to Build Task Force’s panel of Experts. This is dependent on the group’s requirements and subject to agreeing (but not necessarily starting) the scope of work by the end of July 2018. There is no obligation to work with the Task Force beyond this period.

The Right to Build Task Force works to support local authorities, community groups and a range of stakeholders across the UK to deliver affordable Custom and Self Build projects. It is already supporting several community groups who are working to bring on their own Custom Build housing projects, using a range of models and approaches. For example, the Task Force is advising 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.

David Ireland OBE, Director of housing charity World Habitat said “Impartial expert advice is one of the most valuable commodities for a community starting out on the journey of developing its own housing. This time limited offer could really spur communities to take control of their own housing needs.”

Tom Chance, Head of Grants and Development at the National CLT Network said “This is a unique opportunity, as many community-led groups struggle to source funding to bring forward their ideas and proposals and to identify consultants with suitable Custom and Self Build housing expertise who can advise them on the next steps for their projects.”

How to apply

Groups interested in applying should fill in an expression of interest form by
31 July 2018 

Download the form, here

Include as much detail as possible to help the Task Force determine the viability of each project and its potential to deliver new community-designed homes.

The Task Force will make a decision on which groups to support based on the expressions of interest received.

In most cases the project or initiative will need to fulfil the following criteria:

  • It will bring forward Custom or Self-Build housing,
  • Is likely to result in at least five homes, and
  • It will include an element of lower-cost or affordable housing.

Advice on projects which are supported will also need to be replicable for other projects. This is because the Task Force has a duty to share best practice and facilitate Custom Build and community-led projects through its website the Right to Build Toolkit

Completed forms should be returned  no later than June 30th to: 

taskforce@nacsba.org.uk

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.

This is important to ensure that their group is known to their local authority, and will help them in their 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.

Both the Community Land Trust Network  and UK Cohousing can help with finding existing groups to sign up with, or with developing a new group.

Credit: Pixabay/Geralt

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