Community-led housing

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A 13 acres (5.3 ha) community-led housing project in Leicester.[1]

Community-led housing (baugruppen:Germany, projets d'habitat participatif:France, habitat groupé:Belgium. social production of habitat:Latin America) is a method of forming future residents into a 'building group' who contribute to the design and development of new housing to meet their longer term needs, rather than leaving all design decisions to a developer looking to maximise the immediate financial return.

Working together in advance of construction helps to create a sense of community as members collaborate to identify their own priorities when designing their homes and shared spaces.

Groups of this sort were developing housing in Berlin in the early 2000s as the city was rebuilt following German reunification and emerging from a long tradition of self-initiated, community-oriented living and the shared responsibility of building in Germany.[2][3]


Identified benefits of community-led housing include:

  • Increased community confidence and cohesion: These are developed through the opportunity for the community to work together to influence their housing as formal stakeholders.[4][5]
  • Skills development and employment: This can include the development of practical skills that help to develop the homes, such as plastering, plumbing and tiling. It can also include skills such as project management and community mobilisation in the planning of homes.[6]
  • Addressing social challenges: Community-led housing projects can help to address social problems such as homelessness and loneliness. For example, certain projects help to tackle the challenges of supporting an elderly population.[7][8][9]
  • Provision for a long-term legally protected benefit to the local or specified community via retained income from the housing provided.[10]

Key principles[edit]

A volunteer working to renovate an empty home with Canopy Housing, a community-led housing project in the North of England[11]

In 2016 key principles for community-led housing were developed collaboratively with several organisations representing community-led housing as part of an alliance building activity coordinated by Building and Social Housing Foundation (BSHF).[12][13]

The key principles are:[14]

  • The community is integrally involved throughout the process in key decisions like what is provided, where, and for who. They don't necessarily have to initiate the conversation, or build homes themselves.
  • There is a presumption that the community group will take a long term formal role in the ownership, stewardship or management of the homes.
  • The benefits of the scheme to the local area and/or specified community group are clearly defined and legally protected in perpetuity.

Individual schemes are designed to fit the needs of the communities involved and achieve specific outcomes and wider benefits.[15]


Terms used for this concept around the world include:

  • Baugruppe or Baugruppen, which translates literally from German as 'building group'
  • Social production of habitat (internationally used)
  • Projets d'habitat participatif (France)
  • Habitat groupé (Belgium)

Legal models[edit]

Common legal structures used to provide community-led housing in the UK include:[15][16]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

  • "Community-led housing". World Habitat.
  • "Community-led Development". Design Council.
  • "Community Housing Fund: prospectus".
  • "Organization working in the development of Social Production of Habitat". Habitat International Coalition.
  • Romero, G. (2003). "Social Production of Habitat: Reflections on its History, Conceptions and Proposals" (PDF). Trialog. 78: 8–15.


  1. ^ "Saffron Heath - Saffron". Retrieved 11 December 2017.
  2. ^ "Berlin's construction groups and the politics of bottom-up architecture". Cambridge University Press. 23 January 2018.
  3. ^ "Reinventing density: how baugruppen are pioneering the self-made city". The Conversation. 22 November 2016.
  4. ^ "Affordable homes for local communities: The effects and prospects of community land trusts in England" (PDF). Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  5. ^ "Lessons from the first 150 Homes" (PDF). Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  6. ^ "Training & Employment Case Studies x4 - Self Help Housing". Archived from the original on 12 December 2017. Retrieved 11 December 2017.
  7. ^ "Growing Older Together : An Overview of Collaborative Forms of Housing for Older People" (PDF). Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  8. ^ "Housing our ageing population : Positive Ideas" (PDF). Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  9. ^ "Self-Help Housing in the North of England - World Habitat". Retrieved 11 December 2017.
  10. ^ "Local housing, community living: prospects for scaling up and scaling out community-led housing - Smith Institute". Smith Institute. Retrieved 2016-11-18.
  11. ^ "Canopy – Self-help housing for the homeless in Leeds". Retrieved 11 December 2017.
  12. ^ "The Community-led Housing Alliance". Archived from the original on 2016-12-21. Retrieved 2016-10-31.
  13. ^ "Our programme activities". Archived from the original on 2016-12-21. Retrieved 2016-11-18.
  14. ^ "Community-led Housing". Retrieved 11 December 2017.
  15. ^ a b "Community-led Housing Project Baseline Data" (XLSX). Retrieved 11 December 2017.[permanent dead link]
  16. ^ a b c d "A GUIDE TO LEGAL FORMS FOR BUSINESS" (PDF). Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  17. ^ "About CLTs". Retrieved 11 December 2017.
  18. ^ "Community-Led Housing – CDS Co-operatives". Retrieved 11 December 2017.