Funding your Project

The majority of development finance is loans, which need to be paid back. It is also worth keeping an eye out for appropriate grant opportunities, which will change during the lifetime of your project.

It may help with your planning to think of the different things you may need money for:

  • Initially you will need starter funding to get your ideas together, get people interested in your group and to establish what housing need you are trying to address. At this early stage your Local Authority should be able to help, along with other local charitable trusts.
  • At the pre-planning stage, while you are gathering information and taking advice, most funders will expect you to be a recognised legal entity. You are likely to need funding to cover the costs of site exploration (can it be used for housing and is it viable?) and establishing a business case for the type and scale of development you propose.
  • Once planning permission is agreed you will need funding to buy the land and pay for the building. Funding for this stage is most often a loan, agreed on your group's ability to pay back over a period of years from rents or sales.
Photo: meeting at Warcop

Sources of funding

An excellent summary of the type of private, community and public funding available from national organisations to support community-led housing projects is provided by the National Community Land Trust Network, this should be your first port of call.

NCVO also manages a database of funding which you can access here.

Local Authorities in the Cumbria and Lancaster area may be able to provide financial assistance through the Community Housing Fund. Contact the Hub to find out the position in your area.

Additional Community Housing Fund is now administered by Homes England, the Government's national housing and regeneration agency, find out more here.

There are Ethical Banks which specialise in this type of project such as Charity BankEcology Building Society, Unity Trust Bank and Triodos Bank.

Some communities also raise funding through a community share issue. For more about community shares take a look at Co-operatives UK and Community Shares

Social Investment Funds such as those offered by Big Society Capital, Resonance and the Charities Aid Foundation have been used successfully by some groups.

Homes England provides development finance through the Home Building Fund. This is a loan to support developments of 5 homes or more. They also provide grant funding for affordable housing, if you are a Registered Provider of social housing. For this capital support have a look at the guidance here.

Locality advice for funding community led housing.


  • Some renewable energy technologies can generate an income for your development. There is Government support available for installing biomass boilers and heat pumps. Known as the 'Renewable Heat Incentive' (RHI), this is paid each quarter for a set number of years.
  • Find out more about RHI.
  • As well as RHI, if you have a shared heating boiler (district heating scheme) for your development, you will generate income through selling this heat to your residents. This will help to cover your costs for administering the scheme (e.g. billing your residents, based on their meter readings), and ongoing running and maintenance costs for equipment.