Community Led Housing Groups Network

Photo: online meeting

Across Cumbria and Lancaster there are various groups and individuals involved and/or interested in Community Led Housing – all at different stages, but all with a common purpose – to secure affordable community led homes in their community.

The Community Led Housing Hub for Cumbria & Lancaster host a network for these groups and individuals to meet, connect, learn and support each other.

The Hub offers monthly network meet-ups. Currently held ‘virtually’ via Zoom, the meet-ups are a supportive, chatty and hopefully uplifting space for all things housing and community-related to be discussed.

We aim to:

  • ‘Meet’ each other and share what we have done/are doing/have plans to do.
  • Update over time as things progress - successes, pitfalls and hold-ups.
  • Support each other to pass the time and remain positive when things stall or are passed into the hands of others.
  • Work out what the Hub and national networks can help with - particular questions to ask, specialists to engage, training or events to run to help you make progress.

We meet monthly, on a Wednesday evening towards the end of each month. There is no need to attend all meet-ups, just come along when it suits you. All meet-up dates are listed on our Events page. Any notes and/or resources shared at meet-ups can be accessed below and if you join our circulation list you will receive them direct to your inbox. No need to pre-book, but just let Fran know if you’ve not been before and she will add you to the circulation list:

We look forward to catching up with you.

CLH Groups Network Notes Feb 2022

24th February 2022

Hello all,

Picking up conversation with colleagues in the Community Led Housing Groups Network was fun yesterday! If you want to join our next conversation (23 March) please drop me an email and I’ll send you the link.

As we often do, we talked about the environmental impact of planned homes and how we can work with partners (housing associations, local planners and developers to name a few) to make sure that the end result of our efforts is good homes which will be comfortable to live in, affordable to heat and which will not need expensive retrofitting in the next five years.

The work Lune Valley CLT are doing with South Lakes Housing is a great example of a forward-thinking partnership of this sort. They’ve made a terrific video for anyone who wants to know more about building affordable homes to passivhaus standard. Well worth a watch:

In Cumbria, Local Government Reorganisation is seen as a potential challenge for keeping small voluntary groups on track while officer support is stretched and reshaped. But there are opportunities too; the need to maintain local connection and engagement is widely recognised as crucial throughout the process and into the new structures.

Another topic which came up included the opportunity (and challenge) of working with authorities at the scale of Garden Village master planning; how do community voices come together to inform development where the housing will effectively ‘create’ the community? We look for experience from other parts of the country for this, as major planned developments just outside Carlisle and Lancaster grapple with community input.

Motivating communities to get stuck into housing conversations includes not only finding the right people to speak with, but also having a vision of what is possible. This little network group is a really friendly place to learn from people who have already built successful projects, and from those who are just finding their feet. They are also helping to draw together a CLH ‘manifesto’ document to inform and inspire. Watch this space, or join in!

CLH Groups Network Notes June 2021

16th June 2021

Hello all,

A few highlights from our conversation last night:

  • Despite good words from the Church of England recently, we continue to hear that the it is difficult to work with the Church outside the market framework for valuation of land and assets. We hope this will get better and the Hub is interested in supporting groups trying to get land released by the Church for local, affordable homes.
  • Would a Housing Association be interested in working with a community on purchase of existing property for renovation and community benefit? In general terms this is happening in some places, but there is the difficulty of the initial investment in some of our most expensive (and therefore most pressured) areas. If property is on the open market it is likely to be too expensive to attract HA partners without additional financial support – eg crowdfunding by the community. Keep in mind the basic per unit cost which an affordable housing provider will be using.
  • Allerdale Borough Council are creating four new affordable units in an existing building. It would be good to understand their model – who they are working with and how the property will be managed in the future. (FR to explore.)
  • There has been a huge hike in building material costs as a result of the combined effects on the supply chain of Brexit, pandemic, and other national and international issues (reference to Suez canal interruption and the scale of government commitments to infrastructure projects like HS2 skewing the market). This means that projects gathering tenders for work right now are in a very vulnerable position and there is little certainty what will happen to prices over time and things perhaps settle down again.
  • Cost cutting to keep projects achievable – may include compromising on the aspiration to achieve passivhaus accreditation. High standards will still be met, but not necessarily using PH certified elements or going through the assessment. Other areas will also be looked at for cost saving. This is a great shame, further to all the good planning which has gone before. Maybe this is a temporary bump in prices and we will see a return to something more sensible soon. Watch this space.
  • Statistics on house sales in Cumbria - Tim Farron in House of Commons recently suggest that 80% Cumbrian house sales in the last 12 months have gone to second home owners. Other figures suggest that there has been a 15% reduction in the number of residential homes in the Lake District in the last year. These are both shocking stats and have real consequences for our rural housing situation if they are robust. FR to pursue the basis for these figures and see how they differ across the area. There is an appetite to lobby effectively on this issue. It is not just Cumbria which is being affected.
  • Renewable energy – there is an interest to learn a bit more about different technologies which will replace gas boilers from 2023. We talked a bit about air source heat pumps with a desire to understand the space and noise implications of a modern system. Combine air source with underfloor heating option to make best use of the lower temperature which can be achieved. How affordable or disruptive is this as a retrofit? Request for the Hub to run an event on various options in the autumn. If anyone has any suggestions for technologies we want to learn about, or installers/makers who can help answer practical questions - please let me know.
  • There is an event for NCLTN members about community owned energy schemes on July 1st.

Thanks for an interesting and challenging set of conversations. Next meeting with be on Wednesday July 14th at 6.30pm. Do join in if the conversation interests you. It’s very informal and just 1 hour long.

As ever, if you no longer want to get emails regarding the network just let me know and I’ll take you off the list.

All the best,


CLH Groups Network Notes Apr 2021

28th April 2021

Hello all,

Notes from the CLH groups network zoom on Weds 28th April. Thanks to those who came along, it was great to see you all and you had a lot to say!

  • Discussion about Passivhaus standard – coming from the complexities of reaching certification standard and potential cost. Interesting to note that we now understand Passivhaus certification can now stipulate an element of renewable energy generation (as well as airtightness and insulation). I looked it up and found this useful crib sheet which explains that there are 3 levels of Passivhaus (Classic, Plus and Premium) evolving as the standard takes on the challenge of not only passive heating but also renewable energy generation, including considerations of low use and export.
    In many newbuild CLH projects this is built in (solar, air/ground/water source heat pumps etc). Useful addition to note the possibility of waste water heat recovery. I found these two websites for more information about this.
  • We talked about not getting hung up on Passivhaus certification in particular, but being really clear that the high standards and comfort levels are perfectly attainable – and desirable. A word of caution from recent QS suggesting that the additional cost to achieve standard on conventional affordable homes build could be as much as £35k per unit. This seems extraordinary. I’ll be looking into this further!
  • Discount Market Value (DMV) homes are those which are built and marketed to be sold at a suppressed rated (discounted against market value), with protection (eg a covenant or lease arrangement) which maintains that discount is passed forward at resale. So if a buyer pays 70% market value when they buy, they are restricted to 70% current market value when they sell on. We discussed a leasehold option here (with the CLT or partner RP maintaining the remainder equity percentage – but with no ownership rights) and whether this was in keeping with locally affordable homes motivation. In general the feeling was that though this reaches a different market to social and affordable rents, for example, it is an important ingredient in keeping and growing a local professional workforce.
  • s.106 agreements also quoted as ways to protect the discounted value of properties. For example at the Halton Senior co-housing development they have a s.106 agreement which stipulates 30% affordable homes on the site – 2 for affordable rent and 4 DMV at 70% market value.
  • Update on the Lake District Supplementary Planning Document – the proposed change to locality restrictions for local occupancy (to Cumbria wide) have been challenged very strongly. Watch this space, but hopeful a shift to stay with more recognisable locality connections with a few new exceptions.
  • Local Authority land – keep an eye on local opportunities for acquiring land or buildings from local authorities. There is enthusiasm for making this easier than it has been historically, in particular where assets are disused or under-used. Not without challenges though and there are tales of market-led ‘gazumping’ against which the CLH sector cannot compete.
  • Church land – further to the release of the Coming Home report by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York. Brief discussion … look for opportunities to work with local Church as Coming Home gives us a really strong case to argue against the problematic ‘best consideration’ line, which often derailed community conversations as the church sought highest market value in order to best serve it’s organisational purposes. This report absolutely focusses on the social value of good housing to communities (absolutely compatible with Church mission) and quotes CLH as a trusted way forward.
  • Look out for support and training from national partners and supporters. There have been interesting sessions recently offered by National Community Land Trust Network and Cohousing UK, as well as good advice sessions from expert partners like CLH solicitors Anthony Collins and Wrigley’s. The benefits of a zoom platform!

I will continue to schedule these network chats on Wednesdays, in the evening, approximately once per month. I’ll post invitations to the whole list – so please let me know if you don’t want them and I’ll take you off. Next meeting May 19th (as I already have something in the following week – sorry!)

If this is not a time which will work for you, but you are interested in meeting others, please get in touch and I’ll happily put on another session if there is demand.

Thanks for all input. Get in touch if you have any questions – or suggestions of topics to air at a future network.


CLH Groups Network Notes Mar 2021

24th March 2021

A few headlines from our last chat here:

  • We talked a bit about insulation in new and refurbed properties and ‘modern methods of construction’ (a catch all term for doing a lot of manufacturing off site - so fewer wet-trades and weather delays). Thanks to those attending for sharing useful local knowledge I have also been talking with Digital Doodoo in Ulverston who are using WikiHouse technology – Open Source (free to use designs) with Exciting to have this developing in Cumbria.
  • I attach a few slides which were recommended to the group. It’s a brilliant, short, simple explanation of what’s going on with Lune Valley CLT and their current passivhaus affordable development with South Lakes Housing. If you need to convince anyone that low carbon affordable is both desirable and doable, this is a fantastic example.
  • Queries arose about positive ventilation and underfloor heating. A few links shared by the group here:
  • For those in the Lake District National Park, we had a brief discussion about land value for house building. Obviously this is always a negotiation, but it’s useful to have the LDNPA own guidance. You can download the "Housing supplementary planning document (pdf)" from this page: This states in section 3.22 that ‘As a general rule of thumb, the price for a plot of land suitable for a single affordable home is between £10,000 and £15,000 in the Lake District.’ We are aware of a number of conversation where this is wildly out of step with landowners expectations and this is hampering development of affordable units.
  • Consultation has just closed (Feb) on updates to the LDNPA Housing Supplementary Planning Guidance, though it has not yet been formalised. There are some important implications for local occupancy and new dwellings on farms, so worth familiarising yourself if it affects you. Again, the "Housing supplementary planning document (pdf)" can be downloaded from this page: Sections 3.23 to 3.33 relate to 'New homes on farm holdings'.
  • Have a look at the Quaker Housing Trust
  • Finally, we had a useful discussion about the order of events for groups trying to make progress: should planning permission be agreed before land purchase, or vice versa? On balance, the group said ‘yes’ – something like an option agreement in place de-risks to some extent, but has the down side of being costly of the project does not go ahead.

We are in the process of setting up a space on our website to share the ideas, questions and suggestions which arise, so they don’t get lost. We’re not there yet, but watch this space.

Thanks all. See you soon.


Lune Valley CLT presentation (March 2021 meet-ups)

CLH Groups Network Notes Jan 2021

14th January 2021

Hello all,

Great to see a number of you at our CLH network yesterday. To give you a flavour of what we talked about, here are the headlines:

  • A couple of very practical matters arose – finding a good quantity surveyor and opening a bank account. Recommendations from experience were made on both fronts. Really helpful, thank you. (I will make sure we update the adviser pool on our website, which is still in development – but if any of you want to recommend someone we’ll try and make contact with them to include in due course.)
  • Planning issues relating to parking space allocated against square meterage of proposed dwellings (ie the planners will assume that the larger the house the more cars associated and insist on parking space accordingly). Whilst this may make sense in private developments its heavy-handed application is hampering permission on one eco-conscious design which firmly aims to reduce household car reliance. We talked about how to evidence this intent to the planners. Another way forward, perhaps, if the development is prepared to accept draconian conditions to ‘prove’ that it will comply with reduced parking provision.
  • I mentioned some interesting work which is being done on encouraging diversity in CLH elsewhere in the country. Sensible approaches being taken on this with local groups having a really good awareness of the issues and being sensitive to the needs of the people they work with and those they aim to serve.
  • Shameless plug for the CLH Festival events we’re running at the end of January! Have a look at the website if you’re interested in being part of discussion about CLH and affordability, older people, empty homes and building communities or workshopping on CLH group finances and business planning or development options and relevant governance choices. Six separate conversations in all – all free.

That’s all for now.

I propose a next date of Thursday 11th Feb – at 3.00. For those who want to attend but can’t make this sort of time at all, please get in touch and we can try a different time for others. I’ll be keeping this time free for those who can meet and will add another if there is demand for an evening or a different day.

Thanks again for keeping in touch. All the best.

Look after yourselves.


CLH Groups Network Notes December 2020

10th December 2020

Hello all,

We had our inaugural CLH Network meeting this afternoon and I think everyone who attended took something useful away. Thankyou to those who took part – you were all so interested in each other and generous with your thoughts, it was good to see!

There won’t be any notes from these conversations as they are intended to be informal, but we agreed it would be useful to share discussion headlines. A couple who couldn’t attend also asked. So, here they are:

  • Housing needs surveys can show that a community needs certain sorts (size, tenure etc) of housing. We talked about how different community led models can address some or all of the things identified and build supportive communities (rather than just houses). Common threads include affordability in terms of occupancy and running costs, thoughtful use of outside space, facilities and activities which bring people together and meet their current housing and social needs.
  • Passivhaus standard (as a clear benchmark of airtightness and insulation standards) is desirable for environmental and fuel cost reasons, but can still be ignored as adding additional extra costs to a development. It is attractive to the resident as bills are significantly lower. But with fuel bills being lower, note that the investment can also pay-back for landlords (affordable rent) by reducing voids created by turnover. The reduced heating costs can make rent more achievable for those on low or precarious incomes.
  • The Hub is organising a Festival of CLH conversations early in the new year looking at how community led approaches tackle affordability and empty homes. There will also be events focused on community solutions with older people in mind, and how thriving communities can be designed and sustained the community led way. I’ll also be offering a couple of workshop/information sessions specifically for groups who are interested in governance options and business/financial planning (borrowing and possibly share-offers). More info to follow next week.

I will include you in reminders about this network unless you indicate that it’s not for you. You are such a good bunch of sharers I was a bit overwhelmed by the number of you who expressed an interest!

Proposed date to meet up – Thursday January 14th 3.00

All the best,