Housing support and grants

Brighton & Hove Community Land Trust (BHCLT) supports community-led housing projects, including co-operatives, cohousing and self-build, all developed through local people working together. See below for details on who is eligible and how to apply for support and grants. The Programme is supported by Brighton & Hove City Council (BHCC).

We want more truly affordable and stable housing in Brighton & Hove with more people gaining ownership and control over their housing situation. We enable local people to play an active role in building or buying affordable housing that suits them, in co-operation with others.

Our work to increase community-led housing in Brighton & Hove includes:

  • Housing Ourselves: Financial support through loans or grants to housing groups.
  • Discovering suitable land and properties and helping groups acquire them for housing projects.
  • Connecting local people who want to start their own housing projects and providing them with expertise and support.
  • Raising awareness and building knowledge about housing with local people, the council and others who work in housing.

BHCLT are a central resource for everything related to community-led housing in Brighton & Hove and we have a small team of staff with relevant expertise.
Community-led housing involves a group of people coming together to develop a project, leading the way through the whole process, or taking an active involvement in making it happen and managing the resulting homes. ‘Community’ can refer to people who share some form of common interest or identity, or it could refer to a neighbourhood or geographical area.

Our work on community-led housing is supported by Brighton & Hove City Council (BHCC) through the Community Housing Fund. BHCLT has joined forces with two local organisations – Co-operative Housing in Brighton & Hove (CHIBAH) and Mutual Aid In Sussex (MAIS) – to make this happen.

We also want to influence decision makers – such as those working in the council or on housing development – that community-led housing is beneficial for a variety of people in Brighton & Hove. The city is already home to several community-led housing projects, some of which have been providing housing for decades.

We can reduce some of the barriers which make it difficult for community-led housing groups to realise their plans, such as a lack of finance, specialist skills, knowledge, contacts as well as the rapidly increasing market values of land and property.

We also want local people who have never considered community-led housing to think about whether it could be a solution for them.

We work with local people, community groups, housing organisations, Brighton & Hove City Council (BHCC), funders, planners, landowners and technical experts.

Our work is not about replacing social housing, which is in short supply despite being an essential part of the UK’s housing infrastructure, particularly for people most in need.


Housing Ourselves grants, loans and support

Housing Ourselves grants and support aim to help local groups to develop their own community-led housing solutions. Grants are available from £1,000 up to £50,000, depending on how far your housing group has progressed (more details below and in the full guidelines for applicants). Grants and support is available to community-led housing groups at any stage of their journey, especially pre-construction or pre-purchase stages of housing projects. and are designed to help people:

  • Overcome the obstacles they currently face in getting their project off the ground.
  • Gain access to additional funds from other sources to buy, convert or build appropriate properties.
  • Develop their ideas into housing solutions which benefit themselves and others.

The Housing Ourselves programme can also offer free expert support to make community-led housing a reality – not just money. We aim to help groups to, for example, develop their group and their business case, find suitable land or property, and get them ready to secure a mortgage in order to fund the next phase of their project.

The Programme can also offer support for free e.g. providing someone with particular expertise to help groups develop their plans; and help to match groups and available land or property.

Who can apply?

To be considered, a group should meet all of the following eligibility criteria:

  • Demonstrate a strong connection to Brighton & Hove.
  • Are exploring or developing community-led housing options such as Community Land Trust, co-operative, cohousing communities, community self-build.
  • Are prioritising permanently affordable housing.
  • Willing to work in partnership with BHCLT and other local CLH organisations to share information and contribute to the community-led housing movement.
  • Willing to take part in shared action learning events organised by the CLH Programme.

The fund is not available for:

  • Groups / projects where most of the members or participants live outside of Brighton & Hove
  • Registered Providers, Private Companies, Local Authorities
  • Paying debts or fines already incurred
  • Expenses already paid / to cover retrospective costs.

How to Apply?

To apply for Housing Ourselves support, we ask that groups express an interest by emailing admin@bhclt.org.uk or telephoning the Operations Manager on 07526 688926.

We ask all groups to go through a pre-application stage which includes meeting with an enabler from the Programme to discuss their plans. Please find the full guidelines for applicants here.

Why community-led housing?


Community-led housing covers a range of different ways of living, including:

  • Co-operatives – where residents collectively manage and control the houses they live in, without the need for landlords.
  • Cohousing – communities where households live in separate homes but there is also a significant amount of shared space, common facilities and co-operation.
  • Self-build – where people lead the development of their own homes, working with others.

Community-led housing can include renting, private ownership, co-operatives, mutual home ownership and collective ownership. Projects can use existing buildings or be self-built.

The key thing is that community engagement and consent is at the centre of any development. Either a group of local people have come together to start their own housing project, leading the way through the whole process, or they have an active involvement in making it happen and managing the resulting homes.

Community-led housing is good for Brighton & Hove because:

  • It provides additional affordable and stable housing.
  • It creates and demonstrates alternative ways of living which have a positive impact on wellbeing.
  • It encourages collaboration and co-operation between local people and involves them in decisions about new housing.
  • People have more say in how their homes are developed and managed, giving the opportunity for democratic control and greater local accountability. It can help local people develop new skills as they make their projects a reality.
  • It creates an opportunity to make use of empty buildings and vacant land, revitalising communities.

Community-led housing projects are not:

  • State-led social housing or affordable housing schemes.
  • Run by housing associations, charities or professional experts on behalf of others.
  • For profit, market-based, developer-driven initiatives.

We are not alone

Brighton & Hove is not the only place where community-led housing is taking off. This is a great opportunity to connect with people doing similar work across the country and share our ideas and learning.

A national Community Housing Fund of £60 million has been shared between almost 150 councils to help tackle the problem of high levels of second home ownership in their communities. Second home ownership in England is at an all-time high which can distort local housing markets, causing prices to rise out of the reach of local people. Second homes often stand empty for a large amount of time which can also have a social impact on the community and lead to a shortage in properties.

Brighton & Hove City Council (BHCC) was allocated £464,500 and the fund was in turn, awarded to BHCLT, which is acting as the lead partner in this programme of work, alongside CHIBAH and MAIS. The fund will last until October 2018.