Our commitment to building affordable housing includes strong support for community-led projects. We aim to see 30% of new homes coming from these partnerships by 2024. Communities are key in all that we do here at United Communities, and this includes the development of our new homes. Our first community-led scheme was back in 2016 when we provided development services for Bristol Community Land Trust (BCLT) to create 12 new homes in Fishponds. This first taste of a community-led scheme was a success and the Fishponds development captured the ambition and enthusiasm of the community – residents even helped finish their new homes to increase their equity ‘share’ and reduce the cost.
We are office neighbours with BCLT and we provide the community housing hub, which helps us to partner and mentor other organisations. Our latest joint project brings 50 homes for Lockleaze, planned around low-carbon living, sustainable travel and biodiversity. Community-led schemes are often well-positioned to re-purpose land. Sites passed over by commercial developers do not deter local people from developing to their own need. Releasing land is an efficient long-term investment in communities. It also puts local values, knowledge, trust and skills to the fore in house-building and supports the local economy.
Policymakers are realising the potential of the Community Land Trust model, which accounted for less than 0.3% of new housing in 2018 and was given a £163 million government boost via the Community
Housing Fund. In 2019 more funds were put in place to encourage startups. It’s not hard to see why this is close to our heart, and as a smaller housing association, we are flexible to respond. Our current partnership projects include 36 homes with Ambition Lawrence Weston and 120 homes supporting the UK’s largest community-led regeneration scheme, in Glencoyne Square, where we are working with the Southmead Development Trust and another registered provider, Yarlington Housing Group.
For us, it is clear: one sustainable way to tackle our housing crisis is to support the active communities that lead from within.