May webinars: Different Types of Community-led Housing

Last month we were really pleased to offer four webinars, as part of the Wessex Community Housing Hub, all about models of community-led housing. We were joined by four guest speakers who shared their experiences, telling us about group formation, how they found a site, building the homes, and ultimately going on to live in their community-led housing. If you weren’t able to make the webinars, or didn’t hear about them, now is your chance to catch up! We’ve uploaded them all here, including a brief introduction video, and hope you find them a valuable resource.

(Please note they are live recordings, so there are a few glitches and pauses as we sorted out the technology, which cannot be amended. If you have any questions about community-led housing, do get in touch with our Community Housing Adviser, Colin McDonald, who will be able to answer or signpost you to further resources:


Housing Co-ops

Guest speaker: Trevor Houghton, Somewhere Housing Co-op in Bristol.


Guest speaker: Max Comfort, Springhill Cohousing in Stroud.


Guest speaker: Anna Hope, Ashley Vale Action Group in Bristol.

Community Land Trust

Guest speaker: Keith Jenkin, Lyme Regis CLT.

Learn how to build a Tiny Home with Raise the Roof

Raise the Roof, a collaborative project, is running a training programme in Dorset. To find out more and get in touch, find the details below!

Are you interested in a career in sustainable construction?

There is a pressing need to build more affordable homes, but at the same time we need to create a low carbon, sustainable construction sector, using local materials such as timber, clay and straw.
Over the last two years, a group of local partners have been exploring how we might link the use of local materials – in particular, timber – to affordable housing. We are now organising a training programme, offering local people the opportunity to learn skills in sustainable construction – in particular, timber framing and carpentry. We will also be exploring design skills and how to combine wood with other local materials such as fibre, bio-composites and clay.

We are particularly keen to offer places to women, people over 50 and to young people not in
education or training. We are offering free places to people meeting the criteria for selection.

The programme

Participants will be offered the choice of a place on one of two courses, where we will learn how to build a micro-house (a low impact dwelling, sometimes referred to as a tiny house). Once built this will be donated to Elim Connect, a homelessness charity working with entrenched rough sleepers who have requested this kind of accommodation. These courses will be held over 5 days in September and October. There will be 3 additional one day sessions, offering further practical skills training in the morning and advice and guidance on further training and employment opportunities.

We are working with a team of local builders, carpenters and designer-makers, including Karen Hansen, Alice Blogg, James McLellan, Adrian Janssen, Anna Lena Hahn and Jeremy Snell. For further information, and to register your interest, please email:

Raise the Roof is a partnership between Wessex Community Assets, Assemble, Common Ground, Dorset AONB, Dorset Wood Hub, Bridport Town Council, and The Arts Development Company. (The photo belongs to Assemble).

Meet the Norton-Sub-Hamdon CLT community shop

Our Community Housing Adviser, Colin McDonald, went along to the Norton-Sub-Hamdon CLT community shop, to pick up some supplies, and see how they’re getting on in the crisis.

All over the country communities have come together to help each other and protect the most vulnerable at a time when the pandemic threatens us all. The Community Shop at Norton sub Hamdon in Somerset is just one example. A few years ago the Community Land Trust, which was already working with Yarlington (a Housing Association) on a local housing scheme, stepped in when the shop might otherwise have closed. These days the shop has two members of staff but is otherwise run by volunteers; although inside there is also a post office which is staffed separately.

The Government advice on self-isolating caused an initial problem with many of the existing volunteers in the group expected to stay at home for at least 12 weeks. All was not lost though as others soon came forward, including locals furloughed from work and students not currently able to return to University. At the same time the shop began a new ordering system for anybody self-isolating including neighbouring villages. Several directors of the CLT, and quite a few others, stepped forward to make the deliveries. The new service was advertised in the traditional way locally (posters on certain telegraph poles that serve as local messaging boards!) as well as through the different Parish Councils.

As well as helping some of their neighbours stay safe, they’ve seen an increase in the turnover at the shop. Everybody is hopeful that once the current wave of the virus is over, some of that increased custom with people who hadn’t previously used the Community Shop will be kept.