By Councillor Mel Dawkins / Homes for EveryoneHousing / 0 Comments

Community-led housing is about local people playing a leading and lasting role in solving housing problems, creating genuinely affordable homes and strong communities in ways that are difficult to achieve through mainstream housing. This style of housing was key to Canterbury CLP’s 2016 Homes for Everyone Campaign and in our 2018 City Council Manifesto.

We have a significant and growing housing crisis in the UK. Providing more homes is a major Government priority; and community-led housing is firmly on the national agenda as a small, but important contributor. In many rural areas, and increasingly in urban ones too, communities are taking the lead in providing genuinely affordable homes for local people, creating community assets and helping to support local economies. 

Community led housing comes in many different forms. There are no standard models, but it can include:

  • Community Land Trusts provide affordable homes for local people in need by acquiring land and holding it as a community asset in perpetuity
  • Housing Co-operatives involve groups of people who provide and collectively manage affordable homes for themselves as tenants or shared owners
  • Co-housing schemes involve like-minded people who come together to provide self-contained, private homes for themselves, but manage their scheme together and share activities, often in a communal space
  • Tenant Management Organisations provide social housing tenants with collective responsibility for managing and maintaining their homes through an agreement with a council or housing association
  • Self-help housing projects involve small, community-based organisations bringing empty properties back into use, often without mainstream funding, with a strong emphasis on construction training and support
  • Community self-build involves local people in housing need building homes for themselves with external support and managing the process collectively.

Most community-led housing developments have the following features:

  • Usually smaller scale – most are under 25 homes and some are much smaller
  • Typically set up and run by local people in their communities, often with external support from housing associations, local authorities or other organisations
  • Most provide affordable homes for rent, shared ownership or sale on sites that are often difficult for mainstream housing providers to develop
  • Most meet long term, local housing needs, by retaining a legal and/or financial interest in the homes and ensuring they are always available to local people who need them
  • Most community-led housing is not for profit and involves considerable voluntary enthusiasm and effort
  • They can involve new build, regeneration or the use of existing buildings.

Canterbury City Council has been awarded funding via the Government’s Community Housing Fund to support communities to deliver new homes. They are doing this by providing training, information and support and helping Community Led Housing groups to access funding.

Basic steps for success:

  • Form a community group
  • Secure a site – find a suitable site, including investigating any potential problems and how much it will cost.
  • Planning – Affordable Housing is subject to the same planning application process as any other housing scheme, aspects considered in the district/local housing need, housing mix, proposed tenure, section 106 agreement clause.
  • Design and finance the scheme – tap into local expertise and access available grants and loans to finance your scheme.
  • Build and manage the completed development – consider the longer term investment to manage and maintain the scheme to remain affordable.

Canterbury City Council are working in partnership with our neighbouring authorities Dover, Thanet and Folkestone and Hythe, and there are a number of FREE training courses available.

https://www.dover.gov.uk/Housing/Community-Housing/Community-Housing-and-Self-build-Training-Courses.aspx

https://www.dover.gov.uk/Housing/Community-Housing/Community-Housing-Grants.aspx

FINANCIAL SUPPORT TO GET GOING:

Once you have decided this is something you want to do please apply for a grant. The money is allocated as follows:

The CCC grant funding available will be in two stages.

Stage 1 is up to £3,000 per group and can be used for things like, posters, meetings, hall hire, advice, networking, applying to be a legal entity and generally any expenses incurred setting up the group.

Stage 2 is up to £10,000 per group, it can be used for things like site searches, planning permission, legal advice etc. The funding cannot be used to fund capital expenses (ie: physical things that retain value like land, bricks etc). Capital funding is available through loans, mortgages or grant funding from the Government etc, these options are usually something most groups research in the early stages of setting up.

For further information, if you are wishing to start a project or to discuss your ideas, strongly recommend that you contact:

Emma Bartlett, Regeneration Officer (Housing) on 01227 862112 or [email protected]

By Councillor Alan Baldock / Housing / 0 Comments

A council has overspent by more than £1 million turning student flats into homes for desperate families – sparking accusations it has “made a dog’s breakfast” of the scheme.

In a deal worth £23 million, Canterbury City Council purchased 44 properties in the Parham Road complex in July 2018.But the refurbishment of the former student accommodation has been plagued by a number of stumbling blocks and left a bigger hole in council coffers than originally planned.

Documents reveal work to overhaul “unforeseen” leaky roofs and insufficient fire cladding has resulted in a predicted £1,084,000 overspend Despite the increased costs, the council is adamant it does not regret the costly purchase and says the lives of 61 families will be transformed as a result. But opposition leader Cllr Alan Baldock (Lab) has been left stunned by the seven-figure overspend.

“I’m honestly shocked and staggered,” he said. ““They paid top dollar for the properties anyway and an extra £1 million is just huge”

“The whole housing revenue account is a dog’s breakfast. This scheme was meant to be the jewel in the crown but this overspend is taking away refurbishment money from other properties in desperate need.

“It’s mismanagement – this is absolutely not good value for money. The cheapest way to get more social housing is to build your own, but instead they bought these properties, which worked out at above £200,000 per property. “The public is meant to trust this council with their money and they clearly can’t manage to keep this simple project on budget.” After purchasing the former student flats, the council uncovered design flaws in the roof construction and discovered the rafters were water-damaged.

The authority says building surveys were carried out prior to the acquisition, but water staining to the ceilings was not noted and close inspections were not conducted. During the investigation to try and ascertain where rainwater was entering the roof in Albert Mews, external cladding was removed and it was established there were no fire stops in the cladding.

It was therefore agreed additional work was required to protect the safety of future tenants. A report compiled by council officers says the problems would have been very difficult to spot even if more checks were made.

“It is important to note that an intrusive inspection of the cladding prior to acquisition would have been extremely unlikely,” it says.

 

By Councillor Alan Baldock / Housing / / 0 Comments

 

Councillor for Northgate ward, and leader of the Labour Group, Alan Baldock, has written to the Kentish Gazette urging the Council to be bolder when it comes to developing housing in the district.

Last week, Canterbury’s Chief Executive stated in the Kentish Gazette, that the thousands of new homes needed are a “big ask”. Labour believes that Canterbury residents are worth such a “big ask,” as it isn’t really too much to hope, in this day and age, that everyone is provided with affordable, dignified accommodation. Now is the opportunity to radically rethink how and where we build those homes and communities and to link them with an integrated system of transport. It may be a “big ask” indeed, but let’s be a bit radical and make a start, let’s establish a working integrated transport hub in advance of significant future development, and redefine “affordable” so that truly affordable homes are built in the next Local Plan.

Let’s use the practical experiences of local families and businesses to help, set up an independently run event to get both radical and new ideas on an integrated transport system for this District. Joined up public transport is vital to meet climate change targets and to simultaneously cope with a huge increase in population, after all we share the problem and the solution. The suggested couple of extra bus stops, and the excuse for a misplaced multi-story car park at Canterbury West Station, do not constitute, in my opinion, the integrated transport hub our District deserves: it needs to be radical and inclusive.

Homes to rent or buy from the private sector are unaffordable to huge numbers of families working in this District, an area blighted by the high cost of housing and low wages. The term “affordable housing,” referred to triumphantly in a planning application, is defined as being about 80% of the market rate to buy or rent. Social Rent (Council house rent) on the other hand is much more affordable for those on low pay or unsecure employment. Unfortunately, there is a chronic short supply of Social Housing due to years of Local Authority underfunding and the effects of “right to buy’. It is definitely not the same as “affordable”. This month, Labour Councillors will be asking Canterbury City Council to redefine “affordable” in its Local Plan and Policies. It is possible to base a new definition on median house prices and disposable income resulting in a more meaningful definition of “affordable” that would bring a degree of sanity to the market over time and make “affordable” a home reality.