Task Force offers free help for community-led groups

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Right to Build Task Force announces five free days of support for organisations working to deliver new community-led housing

The Right to Build Task Force is offering five organisations up to five days of tailored Expert advice to facilitate the delivery of more Custom and Self Build housing opportunities through community-led projects. This advice is offered completely free of charge and is worth up to £2,500 of support when offered by the Task Force.

Established by the National Custom and Self Build Association (NaCSBA) and endorsed by Government, the Right to Build Task Force works to support local authorities, community groups and a range of stakeholders across the UK to deliver affordable Custom and Self Build projects.

One of its core target areas is to help grow community-led housing, and these free packages of advice will help five groups progress to the next stage of their goal to meet their own affordable housing needs, in their own way.

The Right to Build Task Force is already supporting several community groups who are working to bring on their own Custom Build housing projects, using a range of models and approaches as the sector innovates with customised housing solutions. For example, the Task Force is currently advising the London Older Lesbian Cohousing (LOLC) group, which is working to create an intentional and innovative community of 20-25 homes together with communal living spaces.

The Task Force has set aside funding for the work to enable its panel of Experts to support up to five suitable projects on a time-limited basis, free of charge.

How can the Right to Build Task Force help?

There is a range of ways that the Task Force can provide tailored advice to groups, such as:

  • Facilitating workshops or training events to help build a better understanding of what Custom and Self Build housing is and how it can be delivered,
  • Enabling neighbourhood planning initiatives, such as the preparation of planning policies and proposals and neighbourhood development orders to bring forward serviced building plots,
  • Understanding local demand, selecting suitable sites and support in preparing planning applications and planning, and
  • Advice on appointing professional services.

The free advice equates to up to five working days of support by one of the Right to Build Task Force’s panel of Experts. This is dependent on the group’s requirements and subject to agreeing (but not necessarily starting) the scope of work by the end of 1 September 2018. There is no obligation to work with the Task Force beyond this period.

Groups interested in applying should fill in an expression of interest form by 31 July 2018 on the Right to Build Toolkit, the website for the Task Force.

The Task Force will make a decision on which groups to support based on the expressions of interest received, so groups should include as much detail as possible to help it determine the viability of each project and its potential to deliver new community-designed homes.

  • In most cases the project or initiative will need to fulfil the following criteria:
  • It will bring forward Custom or Self-Build housing,
  • Is likely to result in at least five homes, and
  • It will include an element of lower-cost or affordable housing.
  • Advice on projects which are supported will also need to be replicable for other projects.

This is because the Task Force has a duty to share best practice and facilitate Custom Build and community-led projects through the Right to Build Toolkit.

First steps for all community-led housing groups

Anyone looking to set up their own community-led housing group should first sign up to the Right to Build registers in the areas they are considering by visiting the Right to Build Portal.

This is important to ensure that their group is known to their local authority and that it is willing and able to help the group in its search for suitable land. The Right to Build registers are a vital tool as they give local authorities evidence of demand for custom homes locally, helping them to permission sufficient plots for those on the registers.

Both the Community Land Trust Network (www.communitylandtrusts.org.uk) and UK Cohousing (www.cohousing.org.uk) can help with finding existing groups to sign up with, or with developing a new group.

Mario Wolf, Director of the Right to Build Task Force, said, “The Right to Build Task Force is committed to working with more community-led housing groups. Custom or Self Build housing enables communities to build more affordable better designed homes for local people which suit their particular needs. I would encourage all groups who think they could benefit from our help to contact us and urge them to sign up to their local Right to Build registers so that local authorities can take their needs into account when making land available through their plans and strategies.”

David Ireland OBE, Director of housing Charity World Habitat said, “Impartial expert advice is one of the most valuable commodities for a community starting out on the journey of developing its own housing. This time limited offer could really spur communities to take control of their own housing needs.”

Tom Chance, Head of Grants and Development at the National CLT Network said, “This is a unique opportunity, as many community-led groups struggle to source funding to bring forward their ideas and proposals and to identify consultants with suitable Custom and Self Build housing expertise who can advise them on the next steps for their projects.”

Professionals and community groups interested in finding out more about the Right to Build Task Force’s work should sign up to one of its Expos, with the next one being in Scotland on 20 June. The Right to Build Expo, Glasgow: Unlocking the potential of Custom and Self Build, is the latest in a series of regional events showcasing the Task Force’s knowledge and experience in the Custom and Self Build housing sector. It is sponsored by BuildStore and will include an overview of some of the exciting Custom and Self Build housing initiatives coming forward in Scotland.

The South East England Right to Build Expo: Unlocking the Potential of Custom and Self Build Housing takes place in Fareham on 6 September.

In addition, the Expos offer valuable support to help local authorities in England progress their Right to Build duties and demonstrate the potential the Right to Build registers have as a vehicle for driving the delivery of new homes.
The regional Expos are an important aspect of the Right to Build Task Force’s remit to build capacity for bringing forward Custom and Self Build housing, and are delivered in partnership with NaCSBA and Wood for Good.

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