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‘We do housing differently’: Eastern Community Homes launch

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Eastern Community Homes officially launched last month with an online event over three days. ‘Eastern Community Homes: We Do Housing Differently’ saw more than 450 delegates booked in to hear a range of expert speakers share their experiences and projects.

An independent not-for-profit hub for the eastern counties, ECH provides advice and support to communities which want to pursue community-led housing (CLH) projects. It’s about empowering local communities so that they have a real say and positive direct involvement in the creation of new housing in their localities.

A link to the launch event presentations can be found at the end of this article.

CAN and our ACRE partners

The hub covers six counties – Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire – and each county has a Community-Led Housing Advisor. CAN’s very own Rik Martin is the Norfolk Advisor, and he will be liaising with community groups, housing providers, local authorities, housing associations and other partners in developing initiatives. These will include Community Land Trusts (CLTs), co-housing, co-operatives and self-build schemes. Rik will be working with urban and rural groups locally, but bringing in regional and national expertise, experience and skills to help and support those local groups achieve their housing ambitions. This work will see workshops, finance and funding advice, housing needs surveys, neighbourhood plans and technical support combining to achieve good outcomes.

CAN and our ACRE partner organisations in Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire are key players in providing a community perspective, and bring their knowledge and expertise in working with thousands of communities in their respective counties.

Background 

The need for decent, affordable housing is an ever-growing issue across the UK – but many people are unaware that they can have a real say over where housing is built, and what type of housing is built, in their local area. Community-led housing is a growing movement of local people taking action and managing housing projects that build the decent and affordable homes that are so much needed, nationally and locally. 

Community-led housing is not new of course - the first alms houses date back to the 12th century.  In more recent times housing co-operatives and charitable trusts have operated for decades, owning and managing housing for communities. The term ‘community-led housing’ is conventionally used to describe homes that are developed or managed by local people, in not-for-profit organisational structures. 

Projects are run by individual community groups who have resolved to build the types of homes that local people need. While some community groups might be working on brand new developments, others will focus on bringing empty homes and buildings back into use to meet local housing needs. And there is an emphasis on providing affordable homes - this is a real issue in some Norfolk locations, where some who were born, raised and work in the community have to move elsewhere to find their own homes. 

Community-led housing is essentially about the community being in direct control of a housing development. It covers a range of models that can include community groups directly managing and developing properties, or alternatively see the community retain control or ownership whilst tasking others to undertake the development or management on their behalf. Hopefully, as a result of a community-led housing project, local community needs are kept at the heart of determining how new homes are built. 

Who to contact in Norfolk

Contact Rik Martin on 01362 698216 or email [email protected] for information and advice.

More information

Read more about Eastern Community Homes' vision and action here and to see what’s happening nationwide visit Community-Led Homes and Community Land Trust.  

Launch event presentations

If you missed or were unable to attend the event, and want to know more, you watch the recordings and presentations here.   

There are five sessions available to watch and each has further links to the PowerPoint slides seen in the session videos.

  • ·Session 1 – Local Authorities
  • ·Session 2 – An Introduction to Community-Led Housing
  • ·Session 3 – Housing Associations
  • ·Session 4 – East of England Case Studies
  • ·Session 5 – Expert Q&A Panel