Leeds community groups can apply for part of £4.2m co-housing homes grants

Land on Barrack Road where Chapeltown Cohousing is building homes.
Land on Barrack Road where Chapeltown Cohousing is building homes.

A charity is offering to fund start-up costs for "essential" new homes that would be built by and for community groups in Leeds.

Organisations in the city are being invited to apply for a share of more than £4.2m of England-wide cash from the independent trust Power To Change with the aim of creating and refurbishing "genuinely affordable housing".

The Homes in Community Hands programme will award grants of around £50,000 to community-led housing groups, including community land trusts, co-housing groups, and housing co-operatives.

Leeds housing focus: Homes ‘co-op’ where you choose your neighbours
Co-housing typically involves a self-organised group of households which collectively manage shared facilities such as cooking, childcare and laundry in a shared community building or common house.

One example in Leeds is that of Chapeltown Cohousing (ChaCo), which received planning permission in 2017 to build 33 affordable homes with shared facilities.
The fund has been designed to spur the community led housing movement further in Leeds and four other areas - Liverpool, Tees Valley, West of England and the West Midlands.

It will be administered by Community Led Homes.

Rose Seagrief, programme manager in charge of housing at Power to Change, said: “More and more community groups are realising that they can take control of local housing delivery to create better places to live now and for the future.

"Nationally, 5,500 community led homes are expected to be built over the next five years but groups need help with the basic start-up costs to get these essential projects off the ground. That is why we set up this fund.”

Grants could cover the costs of feasibility work to assess the viability of a site or buildings for development, pre-development work leading to submitting a planning application, and post-planning costs to get a project ready to start on site.

Locals interested in setting up a project can also get specialist help and guidance from Leeds Community Homes, which is based in Cross Green.

Qualified staff are on hand to support groups throughout the process from starting, finding a site, working on a planning application to building the homes.

Steve Hoey, of Leeds Community Homes, said: “With support from Power to Change, we have established a community led housing hub for the Leeds City Region.

"We are developing an enabler service, advising groups to help them progress towards their ambitions to create affordable homes for their communities.

"From idea development through to building and managing homes, we can give advice and support.”

More information about the grant programme can be found at www.communityledhomes.org.uk