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Community Led Housing

What is Community Led Housing (CLH)?

Housing which is built or brought back into use by local people.

Basic principles of Community Led Housing

  • Projects are genuinely understood and supported by the community
  • Homes are owned or managed by people in the community
  • Benefits to the local community are legally protected in perpetuity (i.e. forever)

Who is Community Led Housing for?

It’s for everyone, but it can be intentionally tailored for:

  • People on a range of different incomes
  • Specific groups of people
  • People who want to rent or buy
  • Groups wanting to build new homes or refurbish existing buildings

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 ensure it meets local needs. For example, the community might wish to see housing provided that meets high sustainability standards, is designed in a dementia-friendly manner or includes spaces for children to play or 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, for instance on small plots of land. 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.

Are there any Community Led Housing projects in Copeland?

Yes, a small but growing number of projects are happening across Copeland. For example:

The Joseph & Eleanor Gunson Almshouse Trust own and manage a row of ten cottages, originally built in 1914, in the village of Ulpha in the Duddon Valley. The almshouses provide low cost, local, affordable housing and have helped ensure that the Duddon Valley has remained a vibrant living community. Thanks to the ongoing efforts of the volunteer Trustees and a grant of £73,500 from the Community Housing Fund, administered by Copeland Borough Council, the almshouses are undergoing major refurbishment and modernisation to improve living conditions for residents and ensure the homes are fit-for-purpose for another 100 years.   

Distington Big Local (DBL) are in the process of developing 41 Dementia-friendly retirement homes within a 1.4 acre site in the heart of the village of Distington. Two care homes in Distington had closed meaning local residents had had to leave the village if their housing became no longer appropriate for their needs. The DBL Land Development Group -  a group of hardworking local volunteers - were successful in securing match funding from Copeland Borough Council and Copeland Community Fund to help pay for a Feasibility Study and Community Consultation. They were also successful in securing Community Housing Funding to help apply for full planning permission on the site.


In 2017, the Government provided us with £193,768 of funding under the Community Housing Fund to help fund the delivery of new community-led housing schemes.

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 Community Housing Fund can be used for:

  • Professional advice about setting up your group
  • Finding a suitable site
  • Research to establish local housing needs (for example a Housing Need Survey)
  • Capital works
  • Revenue expenditure

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 provides 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.

Cumbria and Lancaster Community Led Housing Hub
The Cumbria and Lancaster Community Led Housing Hub is part of a national movement to help support communities to take action to meet housing needs in their local area.

The Hub can:

  • Provide advice, resources and useful contacts
  • Help community groups explore options
  • Put groups in touch with funding sources
  • Introduce groups to specialist advisors.

Find out more about community-led housing and support by visiting the Community Led Housing Hub for Cumbria & Lancaster website.

For more information, telephone 01946 598417 or email