A new report by the Confederation of Co-operative Housing (CCH) features case studies of 1,001 co-operative and community-led homes. The report was presented at the annual CCH conference at the University of Loughborough on 13-15 May.
The study is a directory of recent co-operative and community-led housing schemes in England and Wales. The co-operative and mutual housing sector includes more than the 1,001 homes featured in the report. CCH alone works with 836 UK co-operative housing organisations, which provide 196,000 homes.
These include Accord Housing Group from Birmingham with its subsidiary, Birmingham Co-operative Housing Services.
“We have been supporting and developing housing co-ops since the 1990s, and it’s surprising that other housing associations don’t also. For us, it’s a no brainer – we get really well-run housing schemes, which the communities treasure and our staff really value working with,” said Dr Chris Handy OBE, chief executive of the Accord Housing Group.
“But – more importantly – it’s so exciting to see the growth of the people in the co-ops and how they provide such high quality of life for their members.”
The report features case studies supported through Accords such as Beaconview Housing Co-op, Birmingham Student Housing Co-op and Innovation Way TMO.
The report also focuses on North West Housing Services, a mutual set up by 38 independent housing co-ops in 2006. Initially working with co-ops in Merseyside, the mutual is now providing services to co-ops, small landlords, social enterprises and leaseholders across North England.
“The Merseyside co-ops have shown over 40 years that co-ops are among the best forms of housing provision,” said Syed Maqsood, chief executive of the North West Housing Services.
“It’s been a privilege working with them, and it’s really special that we are providing support for them to develop new homes as well as helping new community ones get themselves rooted. It’s exciting to see the new generation of co-op housing getting started. It shows us that so much is possible.”
In Wales, co-operative housing has been growing substantially after the passing of the Housing (Wales) Bill developed by former Labour/Co-op AM Huw Lewis when he was minister of housing. CCH has worked with the previous Labour government and the Welsh Co-operative Centre to deliver this commitment and around 25 co-operative housing schemes are at varying stages of completion.
Derek Walker, chief executive of the Wales Co-operative Centre, explains in the report: “Co-operative housing is prospering in Wales. Thanks to political and financial support from the Welsh government, co-op housing has gone from virtually nothing to a burgeoning movement putting down foundations across all parts of Wales.
“I am pleased the Wales Co-operative Centre, working with the CCH, has been able to lead delivery of this programme. I’m even more delighted to see local people, councils and housing associations responding so positively and making things happen in their communities. It’s an exciting programme to be part of – long may it continue.”
It’s obvious that this is how housing should be. Everyone should have the opportunities we have had
The report includes details about how these co-operative schemes were developed and where they obtained funding from.
Paula Farrow, chair of Minster Housing Co-op and CCH, added: “I have been a member of my co-op since the 1990s. You don’t just get a home when you live here – you get a community. We support each other.
“But more than that – it’s a strong community business. It’s great to see all these examples where people are making things happen for themselves. It’s obvious that this is how housing should be. Everyone should have the opportunities we have had.”