Community Housing Fund

Community Led Housing is when people from the local community work together to develop new housing. They can plan and build the project themselves, or they can work with a development partner. We offer funding for Community Led Housing (including community led self and custom-build housing) through the Community Housing Fund.

Which projects can receive funding?

We are keen to support local groups at any stage of their project. There is no limit to the number of times a group can apply for funding. Groups can apply for funding at the very early stages of their project to help them with tasks such as formalising their group. They can then apply for further funding when they are ready to progress to the next stages.

The kind of things the Community Housing Fund can fund include:

  • Professional advice about setting up your group;
  • Finding a suitable site;
  • Research to establish local housing is needs.

Both capital and revenue funding are available.

What is Community Led Housing?

Community Led Housing is when people from the local community work together to develop new housing. This is usually in response to local needs, for example, where there is a need for more affordable housing in the area.

What sort of housing can Community Led Housing projects deliver?

Community Led Housing projects can deliver many different types of housing. Most schemes feature affordable housing, some focus upon young families and others upon older people. The type of housing you deliver can reflect other requirements in your area.

Community groups can develop Community Led Housing in partnership with a developer, or a housing association, or on their own. Many schemes involve some self-build or custom-build properties, where the future residents build the property themselves, or carry out some of the work, for example, plastering or tiling.

Cumbria and Lancaster Community Led Housing Hub

The new Cumbria and Lancaster Community Led Housing Hub provides one-to-one support to help groups to progress their projects.

The Hub can also connect groups to others in the area Many of these groups are keen to share their experiences to help new groups get started and support them with their projects.

The Community Led Housing Hub can also help you to identify professionals at each stage of your project.

Go to the Community Led Housing Hub Cumbria & Lancaster website.

Why should local people consider getting involved with Community Led Housing?

Community Led Housing gives communities the opportunity to provide the housing that they believe local people need. It means that they can influence or control key aspects of the housing to make sure it meets local needs. For example, the community might wish to see housing provided that meets high environmental standards, or includes space for people to grow their own fruit and vegetables.

In some areas, traditional housebuilders or housing associations might not develop housing because it is more expensive to do so than in their usual development areas. Community Led Housing schemes do not need to make a profit, so they can provide new housing in areas where traditional housebuilders would not build.

Housing Need Surveys

Many communities begin their projects by carrying out research to find out what the housing needs are locally. This work can provide an evidence base upon which to plan a project.

Housing Need Surveys provide information on the number of households that are in housing need in the area. In Eden, the area is usually a parish, and can help the community group to plan the sort of scheme they wish to deliver. They can also provide statistical evidence of housing need when applying for funding.

You can apply to the Community Housing Fund for funding to carry out a Housing Need Survey by a company or qualified person.

We can design and carry out Housing Need Surveys for your community group. We recently carried out a Housing Need Survey of Patterdale parish on behalf of Patterdale Affordable Housing Group. There was a high response rate to the survey by the community in the parish. The housing group are now using the results of the survey to plan a Community Led Housing project.

How to apply

Contact the Housing Policy and Projects Officer, on the details below, to find out more about the Community Housing Fund, and to discuss your ideas before applying. We can help you to prepare your application.

We will require information about your group and your plans. You do not need to have everything worked out at the start of your project. We understand that your project will be a work in progress.

View the Community Housing Fund application form (PDF: 225Kb / 10 pages).

Find out more about Community Led Housing

If your group would like to find out more about Community Led Housing, our project officer can meet with your group to discuss your ideas and answer any questions you might have.

Contact the Housing Policy and Projects Officer to arrange a meeting.

Frequently asked questions

As an individual, can I get support to form a group?

Yes, support is available from us to help you to form a new group, or get in touch with existing groups in your area.

What sort of groups are eligible to apply to the Community Housing Fund?

Groups who work on behalf of the local community must lead or strongly influence a project for it to be eligible for funding.

The majority of Community Led Housing schemes in rural areas are set up by Parish councils. Although, there are many successful examples of new groups made up of people who care about local housing needs.

Developers, or other organisations applying for funding, will need to be able to show that the community will have a meaningful and ongoing input to the scheme.

Do groups need to apply for all the funding at once?

There is no set limit for how many times you can apply to the Community Housing Fund. We encourage groups to apply for smaller amounts of funding to help them to shape their projects, and they can then apply again for larger amounts when they are ready.

Is support available to help groups to develop their projects?

Yes, we provide support, together with other local and national organisations. Some charitable organisations provide this support free of charge. Other organisations may charge a fee for their support. We can help groups to pay for this support using the Community Housing Fund.

We are an Associate Member of the National Community Land Trust Network and can help groups to access the Network’s resources and advice.

Could I self-build my own house as part of a Community Led Housing scheme?

Many Community Led Housing schemes involve self-build housing for all or part of the project. We define self-build projects as those where someone organises the design and construction of their own home. This covers a wide range of projects, from a traditional DIY self-build home, to projects where the self-builder employs someone to build their home for them. This can help to reduce the build costs for the scheme and means that the future residents can put their own stamp on their homes.

Self-build schemes can provide opportunities for the people involved to learn new skills, and for future residents to build relationships by working together on the project before they move in. They also provide an opportunity to meet a wide range of demand and affordability through the provision of a mix of plot sizes, including smaller plots for households seeking lower cost market housing, and flexible layouts that may assist people with limited mobility.

Individuals can also carry out self-build projects, they do not need to be community led. We maintain a register of people interested in undertaking a self-build or custom-build development. If we become aware of land that may be suitable, we will contact those who have expressed an interest.

Read more about self-build and custom-build housing, and the self-build register.

Is there a deadline for this round of funding?

No, there is currently no deadline for applications.

How much money can groups apply for from the fund?

There is no maximum amount of money that a community group can apply for from the Community Housing Fund. The fund has a set budget. We assess applications on a first-come, first-served basis, until the budget is spent.

What other funding is available for Community Led Housing?

Community Led Housing projects can be funded through grants and donations, loans, or through market housing developed for sale (cross-subsidy).

Homes England provide funding for Community Led Housing. They have allocated £163 million to help community groups to develop Community Led Housing projects.

Many community groups raise funding for their housing projects using loans. Ethical banks provide funding at low interest rates for schemes that offer community benefits.

In some schemes, groups help to fund affordable housing by developing some housing for open market sale. Known as cross-subsidy, this means that the profit from housing sold privately on the open market helps to fund the development of affordable housing.

Is this the same as the Eden Community Fund?

No, this is not the same as the Eden Community Fund.

Read about the Eden Community Fund to find out which projects it will fund.

Community Led Housing links

Community Land Trust Network website, for the official charity supporting Community Land Trusts in England and Wales.

Community Housing Fund: prospectus on GOV.UK, which provides information and guidance for organisations interested in making bids to the Community Housing Fund.

Our self-build housing web page.

Last updated: Wednesday, 2 August, 2023.