COMMUNITIES across Chichester District are being encouraged to consider setting up their own affordable housing projects to meet local needs following a major funding boost from the government.
The £1.3million fund has been made available to Chichester District Council in recognition of the high number of second homes in the district and the effect this has on affordability.
Carol Purnell, CDC’s member for housing, said: “One of the council’s key priorities is to improve the provision of and access to suitable housing. Community-led schemes are an important tool to help achieve this and have many benefits such as creating stronger neighbourhoods, creating permanent affordability and providing greater local accountability.
“Currently, the average house price in the district is more than 13 times the average salary which makes it difficult for people to remain living where they grew up.
“This funding is being made available to help people address housing needs at a local level and provide unique solutions to meet them.”
She said the Government’s focus has changed from a “top down” approach to actively encouraging communities to devise their own tailor-made schemes in order to provide genuinely affordable homes.
“We see this funding as a huge opportunity for people to make a lasting difference and support future generations.
“There are many different ways for communities to set up their own housing project.
“We can provide all the support and guidance they need, it doesn’t have to be demanding, we just need to people to contact us with their ideas as soon as they can.
“Depending on take-up of this funding, more could become available in future.”
Communities interested in kick-starting their own housing project can access technical help and support from the council’s housing delivery team including funds towards start-up costs. Projects can take a variety of models:
• Group led: A group forms in response to local housing need, or to deliver their own homes.
These groups usually emerge from existing networks such as parish councils or residents’ associations. The group accesses expertise to support the development.
• Extension of community based activity: Existing organisation decides to provide housing in addition to their current activities, accessing expertise to help them understand this new area of provision.
• Developer-led partnership: A local authority, landowner, housing association, or local developer wants to provide housing that incorporates a community-led element.
They recruit founder members from the community and support them to take over ownership and management of the homes.
Examples of projects include: community-owned rented housing; low-cost housing for sale; housing co-operatives; self-build schemes; co-ownership; and housing for older people.
Community schemes can access a wider range of funding opportunities not available to large developers and give communities control over design and affordability as well as ensuring local traders are employed.
The funding is in addition to money allocated by the council last summer. This was to help people set up Community Land Trusts (CLTs) including grants towards the purchase of land and low-cost loans for development of the homes.
The National CLT Network also provides grants and loans. So far eight community groups have expressed interest in setting up a CLT.
People interested in finding out more about setting up a community-led housing project should contact the council’s Rural Housing Enabler, Holly Nicol by emailing [email protected]
The council is also compiling a list of those interested in self-build schemes.
People can sign up at www. chichester.gov.uk/selfbuild