A government grant which has funded the design of thousands of high quality, affordable community led homes is set to close before the majority can be built.
The £163m Community Housing Fund, created to support the growth of the community led housing sector, is due to close in December 2019 – just 17 months after opening.
An FOI response from Homes England has revealed that 56 community led housing projects have plans to build 3,546 homes. These homes are likely to stall if the Government doesn’t extend the Community Housing Fund.
The response also details a further 153 community groups are developing applications. Many, if not most, of these planned homes, will also be forms of affordable housing.
On 16 January 2019 the Greater London Authority launched its own £38m Community Housing Fund – this fund will be open for bids until March 2023, giving community led housing groups ample time to complete their housing developments.
The National Community Land Trust Network is calling on the Government to extend the Fund outside London in the Spending Review and has received cross-party support from Conservative, Labour, Lib Dem and Green MPs, including Oliver Letwin.
Tom Chance, Director of the National CLT Network, said:
“Through the Community Housing Fund the Government is helping communities to create plans for thousands of affordable homes. It would be a terrible waste to scupper them by closing the fund after only 17 months.
“The uncertainty around Brexit is having a knock-on effect on domestic issues. The Government says it is committed to fixing the broken housing market but this will only happen if the programmes put in place to provide solutions are given time to make their mark.
“To make sure these homes don’t remain on the drawing board and for community led housing to become a self-sustaining sector with a lasting legacy, the Government must extend the Fund past 2020 and ideally for the duration of the next spending review.”
Alan McInnes, Chairman of Herstmonceux CLT, said:
“Herstmonceux CLT is building 19 homes for local need to retain young and older residents in our rural parish. It has taken time to get to this point and we are now in a race against time to resolve technical, environmental and planning matters with our site in order to commence construction before the Community Housing Fund closes.
“We are relying on this grant funding. Surely, as the desperate need for economic housing has been acknowledged by government and grant aid identified, there should be a means to extend the deadline. Otherwise, the effort and initial grants raised may be wasted.”