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.

Join a free Housing Hub webinar

A fortnight ago we had to take the decision to cancel the remaining four events of our Community Housing Hub launch programme, which was disappointing, but it felt like the right thing to do. Our first two events at the beginning of the month, at Seavington in South Somerset and Wells in Mendip, were really successful, beginning some great conversations and making some helpful connections. 

Communities everywhere are facing serious challenges at the moment, and times are uncertain. Whilst we appreciate that many of you may have more urgent issues right now, for those of you who do have the time, we want to keep sharing the Wessex Community Housing Hub. To reach as many people as possible we’re going to be running a webinar on Wednesday 1st April, at 2pm and repeated at 7:30pm, as a replacement for the cancelled events. You can find out more here, and sign up to your preferred time. You’ll be sent joining instructions so it will be really simple to participate. 

Even if you can’t make the webinar, we want you to know that the Housing Hub is still open and accessible, whether it be that you’re worried about what the current restrictions mean for your community housing project, or you want to start a project but don’t know what to do first, we’re here to help and will be for the foreseeable future!

Chagford CT’s business units …

Chagford Community Trust is providing affordable homes but will also have business units to let. This is from their website.

“The employment units and the role of the CCT

The Bellacouch Meadow application includes a block of small employment units with a public toilet block at ground floor level.

It was broadly agreed by the Steering Group and Parish Council that the ideal outcome would be for the employment units to be held by a Community Trust, for the benefit of the wider community.

Below we have provided some thoughts on how we might proceed. It is certainly an approach that has worked well in a number of other parts of the country.

The CCT’s “business/philosophical premise” underpins its approach. The employment units should:

  1. Be ring-fenced for the benefit of Chagford.
  2. Deliver an opportunity for new businesses to get established in the town.
  3. Provide premises for young, local entrepreneurs to get a foothold in business.
  4. Encourage businesses that will provide employment and not just a lifestyle for the owner.
  5. Encourage businesses that benefit the town itself, rather than those that simply need a base for a wider operation.
  6. Change hands on a regular basis, so as to continually offer the aforementioned.
  7. Provide a source of income to CLT, that can be spent on other community projects or other community initiatives.
  8. Be “profitable” and produce an annual surplus over expenditure and maintenance.

The CCT has considered which models will deliver the above philosophy and these will include a combination of the following:

  • 1 unit will be offered on the business “incubator” model as favoured by the Transition Town Movement (see below) or with a subsidised rent and no incubator assistance.
  • 3 further units will be available at a market rent, with no incubator assistance.

All four units are limited to Class B1 use.

The business “incubator” model

A business incubator is a facility that helps new and start-up businesses to develop, by providing services such as management training, mentoring and work space. Services like:

  • Space to operate from,
  • Help with business basics,
  • Networking activities,
  • Marketing assistance,
  • High-speed Internet access,
  • Help with accounting/financial management.

For more information on these units, please contact our managing agent at  Updates on progress will be put on this website, and you can also join the CCT to be kept informed.”

Share our experience of CLT/HA Partnerships – 27th March 2019, Norton sub Hamdon Village Hall, Somerset

It’s nearly 9 years since the Wessex CLT Project was established and, in that time, we’ve supported 45 partnerships between Community Land Trusts and RPs, 14 of which are now complete. We’re sharing our experience of supporting these projects at an event on 27th March.  The event is aimed at those with practical experience of the development process for affordable housing, possibly working with Local Authorities, Housing Associations, Homes England, Architectural Practices, Legal Firms, Community Housing Hubs and so on.

Click here to book:

The cost of booking on to this event is £88 plus VAT.

Places are limited to 25. If the event is oversubscribed please contact Alison on to go on the waiting list or register interest in another date.

National CLT Network Awards

Congratulations to Liz of Norton sub Hamdon CLT and to Lyme Regis CLT who won the Can’t stop, won’t stop and People-powered homes awards at the National CLT Network AGM. Each received a ‘goose’ to signify that, like geese flying in formation, CLTs take turns to head the chevron. Alison accepted the award on behalf of LRCLT. The presentations were made by Peg Alexander whose film about community housing beautifully captures the passion of local volunteers.


Can’t stop, won’t stop 

The CLT movement is full of unsung heroes and people who continuously go the extra mile, but for no personal gain other than the betterment of their community.  The hours of volunteering time people are willing to give to see positive change means hundreds of awards could get dished out here, but alas we only have one. 

People-powered homes 

Community, community, community. There’s no getting away from it, people are at the heart of this movement. You’re showing the wider housing sector how genuine community engagement is done.