Housing Alliance responds to Proposed Right to Buy Extension

The extension of Right to Buy and the impact on Cohousing and the Community Housing Sector

Summary

The Government’s proposed extension of the Right to Buy could pose a significant threat to the community-led housing (CLH) sector including those cohousing groups that are seeking to create affordable housing in partnership with housing associations to maintain a balanced and mixed income community. Community-led housing organisations are working together to request that Government includes an exclusion cause for community-led housing from the Right to Buy legislation, in the forthcoming Housing Bill (due in October).

Why CLH should be excluded

Community-led housing is underpinned by communities working together to help solve local housing problems – and the provision of affordable housing plays a significant role in this. Project groups work with very tight budgets, rely on volunteer support, and base their business plans around building properties that will remain affordable in perpetuity.

The loss of affordable homes from cohousing developments can not be replaced! A number of cohousing communities are also trying to secure arrangements with local councils and other public bodies to secure land/property at a rate that will support the development of affordable homes in the community. In some circumstances the inability to prevent individuals from receiving private gain from this discount is threatening the basis of these agreements. Given the pressing urge to make cohousing more accessible for more people to enjoy, it is anticipated that the rate of affordability in cohousing communities will vastly increase in the years ahead. Another potential negative impact resulting from the extension of Right to Buy to community housing organisations could be reduced sources of grant and social investment support for affordable housing that cannot be guaranteed to be maintained for long term community use.

Such a situation would be disastrous, as the benefits of CLH and cohousing are widely understood:

  • Creating sustainable resilient communities that are independently managed and predicated on supporting people to live well and share resources
  • They encourage the development of social capital leading to increased life opportunities, a reduction in loneliness and increased skills and confidence – many individuals gain employment as a result of their voluntary activity and contribute actively to local civic society
  • They act as a local community anchor – building community vigour and enterprise
  • they stimulate the sense of self-reliance that exists in home ownership where local people take on the responsibility to make their homes, neighbourhoods and communities work.

Most importantly, they are run by local people, for local people, under governance structures that give control to the community – inspiring examples of how small scale projects can impact far beyond the basic provision of housing. In many cases, passive individuals become active citizens who have a desire and a passion to make their communities work, and though likely to have been housed because of some financial or other disadvantage – take responsibility for turning their lives around.

The proposal is to create an exemption for community-led housing from the proposed Right to Buy extension.  The Act will not apply to all types of community-led housing but it will apply to a significant number of community led homes. The exclusion has been developed to cover community-led housing organisations likely to fall within the provisions of the Act. The definition is attached. Having a statutory definition of community housing will also provide other benefits to emerging and growing numbers of alternative community based place making.

We urge you to support this call on Government.

What you can do

Pledge your support to us at Jo@Cohousing.org.uk

I/We [name of organisation/individual] support the proposal to protect community-led housing from the extension of the Right to Buy, to protect community homes now and for future generations.

Send us your logo or give us permission to use your organisation’s name when in contact with Ministers.

Write to your MP about protecting your cohousing community from the Right to Buy (if you would like to use a template please contact us)