Issued 26 July 2019
ACTion with Communities in Cumbria (ACT) launched the new Cumbria & Lancaster Community Led Housing Hub at an event in Glenridding Village Hall last week (Thursday 18 July). Speakers included Jo Lavis of the National Community Land Trust Network and Phill Roberts of Keswick Youth Centre Services.
Jo explained why hundreds of community groups around the country want to get involved in developing housing projects: “Community Led Housing is a rapidly growing movement. From small beginnings, there are now 16,600 new community led homes in the pipeline, all thanks to the commitment and energy of individual community groups who have decided to take action themselves to meet their housing needs. Across the country groups have come together, involved the wider community and created a formal legal organisation. From there they have gone on to design, finance, gain planning permission and oversee their scheme being built. The end result is homes in their ownership, let and sold to people from their community. Through every stage they have been supported by a Community Led Housing Hub, providing face-to-face guidance, helping them access the technical advice they need.”
More than 30 delegates from across Cumbria and Lancaster met at Glenridding to find out more about the Cumbria and Lancaster hub, learn from each other and share their current vision for community led housing in rural communities. There were representatives from district councils, the Lake District National Park Authority, parish councils, Churches Together in Cumbria, the National Lottery Community Fund and a wide range of people who are already involved in community led housing initiatives.
Fran Richardson is the officer responsible for the Housing Hub at ACT: “We wanted to launch the Housing Hub at an event that would bring together a lot of those people who are already enthusiastic about this approach to rural housing. The Housing Hub and its new website provide support and information, introduce professionals, build connections with local planners, identify partners and funders and create networks so it was excellent to start the whole thing off with a gathering of this kind.”
The programme included details of an existing local scheme as Phill Roberts updated the meeting on progress with the Keswick Youth Centre project on the banks of the River Greta in central Keswick. “We’re complete newcomers to housing but the 2009 floods, in a strange way, gave us the opportunity to do something new. All being well, our new buildings will combine new facilities for the Youth Centre with a small community led housing development, parking as a source of income and enterprise units for Keswick’s young entrepreneurs too. The sort of advice, local contacts and practical support that the Housing Hub offers is exactly what groups like us need and I wish it well.”
Cumbria Action for Sustainability (CAfS) has also contributed to the Housing Hub: “Building houses for a community opens up opportunities to give people homes with very low energy bills, in a local environment that’s healthy and biodiverse,” said Rhona Pringle from CAfS. “We’ve all got used to homes being built in a standard way, but there are alternative, well-established building methods that can give future residents energy bills of just a few hundred pounds a year compared to £1,200 for the average household. The Housing Hub offers lots of advice to help and we’re keen to encourage community led housing in Cumbria.”
Concluding the event, Fran Richardson said: “Community led housing will only ever be a tiny sliver of the bigger provision needed in Cumbria and Lancaster. However, we know it can work well at the scale needed by rural communities and we’re looking forward to developing the Housing Hub as we get feedback and ideas from groups across the area.”
The Cumbria & Lancaster Community Led Housing Hub website is now live at www.clhhub.org.uk and Fran and the team at ACT can be contacted on Tel: 01228 817224 or Email email@example.com.
Image: Jo Lavis of the National Community Land Trust Network and Phill Roberts of Keswick Youth Centre Services with Fran Richardson (centre) of ACTion with Communities in Cumbria at the launch event. Credit: Jenny Woolgar
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