Mortgage advice for community-led housing groups from Ecology Building Society, Charity Bank, Triodos bank and Unity Trust bank

In March 2018 we asked Sonya Powe (Unity Trust bank), Jon Lee (Ecology Building Society),
Carolyn Sims (Charity Bank) and Mark Ogden (Triodos bank) for their advice for
community-led housing groups applying for a mortgage.

We asked each of them three questions:

1) What are your top 3 tips for Community-led housing groups who are planning to raise money through a mortgage?
2) What are the two most common mistakes Community-led housing groups make when applying for a mortgage?
3) Why should Community-led housin groups choose you over other lenders?

See their replies below.


(if the video above appears blurry when watching, click Settings and then Quality in the youtube player and select the highest quality your internet connection can handle)

More financial resources for community-led housing


In our groups guide for community-led housing groups, we have a page on finances for community-led housing groups, which includes these recommended resources:

Brighton & Hove Community Land Trust – General Meeting and Social – 8th May

Brighton & Hove Community Land Trust (CLT) warmly invites you to its General Meeting & Social Evening on Tuesday 8th May, between 5.30pm – 8.30pm in One Church, Gloucester Place, Brighton, BN1 4AA.

Come and shape the CLT’s vision and values, help build the movement for community-led housing in the City, and find out how to become a CLT member or a Director.

We’ll break for a shared meal at 6.30pm (please bring food to share) and a chance to chat, socialise and network with others interested in community-led housing.

Limited space, so booking essential. Book via eventbrite here.

We apologise that the venue is not easily accessible for wheelchair users or those with mobility difficulties. However, we’ll make every effort to help you access the event if you’d like to join us.

Feel free to contact admin@bhclt.org.uk to ask any questions.

Cohousing social on the 2nd May

Are you a member of a cohousing group?
Or interested in joining or setting up a cohousing group?

Join us for a drink and a chat…

Wednesday 2nd May
6pm – 7.30pm
Upstairs at the Earth & Stars Pub, 46 Windsor St, Brighton, BN1 1RJ (map here)

Brighton & Hove Community Land Trust is organising this informal event for anyone actively involved or interested in cohousing to come together, meet new people and share ideas, experiences, and strategies. There won’t be any presentations, just the chance for you to meet, chat and network.

Just turn up on the 2nd May.

More details about cohousing communities are can be found on the UK cohousing network.

We look forward to seeing you there!

The Brighton & Hove Community Land Trust team

Coldean Community ‘Have your Say’ Meeting

On the 28 of March we helped Coldean resident Ian Bailey organise a community meeting. The aim was to get locals together to talk about their area and how they’d like to see it develop. Ian and Dot (our Community Enabler) spent time flyering the local area and as a result was that 30 people came along to have their say!

Brighton & Hove City Council have identified areas in Coldean called ‘urban fringe sites’ that have the potential to have houses built on them. One of these is being assessed presently for the development of a significant number of houses. Residents have already seen a lot of change to their community with the construction of the University of Brighton halls at Varley Park. Whilst there are some concerns and questions still to be answered many of the group came with ideas of how any potential development might be done. In particular, how this might enhance the local area, sharing how they’d like to see Coldean grow and come together to move forward.

We spoke about the local woodland and trees, access, community facilities, sports facilities, noise, services and much more and now have a list of ideas to consider and develop together. By far the most popular idea was a community centre/hub that could serve the neighbourhood and provide multiple services. Ian and Dot will be holding another meeting soon where we’ll bring forward some options and opportunities to discuss further and take forward.

Are you a Coldean resident or do you work in Coldean perhaps? Would you like to come to our next meeting to see how things progress? Send Dot an email on dotkirk@bhclt.org.uk and we’ll keep you in the loop.

Our Community Enabler Dot provided meeting space and helped plan and facilitate as well as providing refreshments. If you’d like to run something similar in your area get in touch!

A guide to getting your group ready

We have produced a short guide to help groups know if they are ready to buy land or push ahead with developing their housing project. It will help groups think about what they need to do in order to take their housing plans forward and could be useful in helping you plan and structure your activities.

The guide includes a list of local and national resources to find out more about co-operatives, custom and self-build, cohousing, financial planning and intentional communities of varying kinds. We will be publishing a more detailed version of the guide, here on our website, later this year.

Download the groups guide here.

How are you governed? Find out more about Sociocracy

Sociocracy is a governance system that aims to balance inclusiveness with effectiveness. It is popular with housing communities in the US and elsewhere. Interested in finding out more? Join our workshop on Saturday 5 May.

How groups organise and work together significantly impacts on what they can achieve. Sociocracy is structured somewhere between regular hierarchies that we’re likely all used to, and ‘flat’ consensus-based formats that others may have experienced. It helps to reap the benefits of both formats – namely efficiency as well as equality.

Linked teams of people (circles) work semi-autonomously to understand the issues they have to deal with and create policies together, using inclusive techniques such as rounds and consent to make decisions efficiently.

Sussex Cohousing uses Sociocracy as it’s method of governance, decision making and general working together. This is because they believe it is organised, inclusive and has ongoing learning from experience built in. This workshop will offer an introduction to the system and practices as well as showing something of how Sussex Cohousing work together. This could be useful for other community-led groups, or in any area of life where you’re working with others.

Two members of Sussex Cohousing will give an overview and a chance to try one or two methods.

The workshop takes place on Saturday 5 May, 10.00am -1.00pm. We have limited places available. Please email admin@bhclt.org.uk as soon as possible to find out more and sign up.

The workshop is free, but we require participants to become BHCLT members (fee £1). Join here: bhclt.org.uk/membership

Introduction to self-build for community-led housing video

On Saturday 17 March, Mario Wolf (National Custom & Self Build Association, Right to Build Taskforce) and Martyn Holmes (Bunker Self-Build Housing Co-op) & Raphael Lee (architect for Bunker Housing Co-op, Auraa Studio architecture) gave an introduction to self-build for community-led housing.

Mario Wolf discussed the Right to Build Task Force and the national self-build picture and what it means for community-led housing groups. Martyn Holmes & Raphael Lee talked about community self build and Bunker housing co-op collectively self-building their homes in Brighton. Watch the full workshop below

(if the video above appears blurry when watching, click Settings and then Quality in the youtube player and select the highest quality your internet connection can handle)

Download Mario’s full slides (115 MB) and Martyn’s and Raphael’s full slides here (92 MB). You can also view the slides below:

From Mario Wolf

From Martyn Holmes and Raphael Lee

Mario mentioned in his talk the importance of as many people as possible getting on the Brighton & Hove Self build register. The process is free. The more people that register, the more duty Brighton & Hove City Council has to provide plots of land for Community-led housing. The councils information about how to get registered is provided here. The first step to get on the register is to email: housing.strategy@brighton-hove.gov.uk.

Upcoming workshop in April

Understanding planning and development workshop in April with Nicola Thomas and another planning expert. 
Fri 20 April, 2-5pm
Learn more about planning and development processes and policy, including how to create a brief and the steps for designing and potentially constructing your project.

Places are filling up fast. Please email admin@bhclt.org.uk as soon as possible to find out more and sign up.

One of the biggest challenges for community-led housing groups in Brighton & Hove is finding suitable and affordable land and property. This is why we have Nicola Thomas as part of the Community-Led Housing Programme staff team. Nicola is an architect with over 30 years of experience, specialising in sustainable architecture.

The workshop will be a great opportunity to get to know people in other community-led housing groups. The workshop is free, but we require participants to become BHCLT members (fee £1). Join here: bhclt.org.uk/membership

Looking for land or property? Join our workshops in April

One of the biggest challenges for community-led housing groups in Brighton & Hove is finding suitable and affordable land and property. This is why we have Nicola Thomas as part of the Community-Led Housing Programme staff team. Nicola is an architect with over 30 years of experience, specialising in sustainable architecture.

We are running two free workshops for people who are trying to start community-led housing projects:

Finding suitable land and property with Nicola Thomas and local estate agent, Paul Bonett
Friday 6 April – 2-5pm
Develop your site criteria, learn more about the local land and property context and work with others in your group to decide the next steps in your search for land/property.

Understanding planning and development with Nicola Thomas; Liz Hobden, Head of Planning; Brighton & Hove City Council; Ian Coomber, Absolute Town Planning and Anthony Probert, BioRegional.
Fri 20 April – 2-5pm
Learn more about planning and development processes and policy, including how to create a brief and the steps for designing and potentially constructing your project.

Both workshops will be a great opportunity to get to know people in other community-led housing groups. Workshops are free, but we require participants to become BHCLT members (fee £1). Join here: bhclt.org.uk/membership

We have limited places available. Please email admin@bhclt.org.uk as soon as possible to find out more and sign up.

Introduction to self-build workshop

Are you considering building a community-led housing project from scratch? Join us for a free workshop on Saturday 17 March in Brighton.

Group self build schemes can result in significant cost savings – sometimes as much as 40%. It also means you can have a say in creating the wider community. If your community-led housing group is thinking about this option then join us to hear from:

Places are limited to 20 people. The deadline for registering is 14 March. Email admin@bhclt.org.uk to find out more and sign up.

Introduction to financial planning for community-led housing video

On 24th February 2018 Nathan Brown (Co-op Culture) gave a workshop on ‘Introducing Financial Planning’ for community-led housing, on behalf of the Brighton & Hove Community Land Trust. Watch the full workshop below

Find the full slides from the workshop here. Find the example of the Radical Routes spreadsheet which is mentioned in the presentation here.

Nathan outlines in his talk different useful financial planning tools for community-led housing. These include:

  • The Radical Routes financial planning spreadsheet, which can be found at the bottom of this page – it’s a spreadsheet designed for housing co-ops, to work out what they can afford to buy, how much rent they need to set and what loans and loanstock they will need.
  • The Community Land Trust Appraisal Tool – This tool will help you to develop a financially viable affordable housing project. It’s more complicated than the Radical Routes spreadsheet, as it takes into account different ownership / tenure options, rather than just the housing co-op model.

There are various ethical lenders which community-led housing groups can get mortgages / loans from, including:

Please book a place to come to our next lending surgery on Monday 19 March for community-led housing groups to meet representatives from organisations which lend to community-led housing. At the lending surgery you will able to meet and discuss your plans with Mark Ogden (Triodos) and Sonya Powe (Unity Trust bank).

Please sign up to our mailing list to find out about future events.

For more information about grants, land, support and housing for community-led housing in Brighton & Hove, please see: https://bhclt.org.uk/housing-support-and-grants/