Rural Housing Week and Community-Led Housing

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Affordable housing is at the heart of helping rural communities thrive and survive.  In this, Rural Housing Week, we are looking at why affordable housing is needed and why it’s important for residents to be involved.

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 normal people taking action and managing housing projects that build the decent and affordable homes that the country so desperately needs.

CAN is one of six partner members of Eastern Community Homes aiming to provide essential support for communities across the East of England wanting to pursue community-led housing projects. We will look at this in more detail in a future article but for now let’s look at why community-led housing is needed, how it works, and why it involves people power.

Statistical background

Incomes are lower than in rural areas than in urban locations, and house prices generally higher. In the most rural districts of England, households in the bottom 25% of earners need to spend nine times their annual income to buy a home in the lower end of the market. At the same time there is a shortage of properties for rent from housing association and councils - only 8% of the housing stock in villages of less than 3,000 people is in the social housing sector, compared with 19% in urban areas. In 2019, 80% of rural housing development was for private sale. At the same time, just 5,558 new affordable homes were built in the English countryside. looking for an affordable home, or which 60% of them earned less than £30k and of these, half earned less than £20k.

Community-led housing defined

Community-led housing projects are run by individual community groups who have resolved to build the types of homes that local people need and want. There is of course an emphasis is on providing affordable homes. 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.

Community-led housing projects share similar core principles:

  • the benefits to the local community and area should be clearly defined and understood
  • the community should be involved in decision-making about the housing throughout the process
  • the group undertaking the project should take a key role in ownership and/or future management of the housing.


The objectives are generally to:

  • create high quality, affordable housing for people in need including unemployed, single parents, key workers, and young people hoping to buy their first home and stay in the community where they work or may have grown up
  • support older and disabled people to downsize or find more homes more suited to their needs
  • help to address issues associated with long council house waiting lists
  • ensure the provision fits with the existing nature of the local community.


Information sources

Good leadership is needed to make sure schemes get off the ground. Rural Housing Enablers and Community-Led Housing Hubs provide independent information and advice, ensure communities constructively engage throughout the development process and bring the right partners together. You can read more about this at Community-Led Homes  and My Community.