£900k boost for Welsh co-op housing as Cwmpas wins new development funds

‘People want to have more control of where they live, and work with others to achieve a shared goal’

Development agency Cwmpas has been awarded £540,000 from the Welsh government. and £408,539 from the Nationwide Foundation, to continue its work growing the country’s co-op and community-led housing sectors.

The money will help Cwmpas – fomerly the Wales Co-operative Centre – to scale up its Communities Creating Homes programme, whose new five-year strategy sets an ambitious target to double the number of groups taking forward co-operative and community-led housing (CCLH) in Wales. This includes 150 new low-carbon homes completed, and a development pipeline for a further 250 homes.

The government money will be phased over the next three years, while Nationwide’s funding – a continuation of previous support – runs until 2025.

The funding will allow Cwmpas to continue being Wales’ only CCLH Hub providing a voice, support, and expertise to the sector. Cwmpas says it will continue to bring its influence at a local and national level to remove the barriers faced by many groups.

Jocelle Lovell, director of inclusive communities at Cwmpas, said: “Co-operative and community-led housing plays an essential role alongside councils, developers and investors to create affordable homes in Wales which meet local community needs and support future generations. The funding from the Welsh government and the Nationwide Foundation is critical to building on the excellent progress that has already been made in this area.

Jocelle Lovell

“People want to have more control of where they live, and work with others to achieve a shared goal. They like the fact the co-operative and community-led housing model is flexible to meet many needs and any tenure – so the outcomes are often more successful. We know that every project is different – so our support is tailored to the needs of each community. Whether you’re new to co-operative and community-led housing, have already formed a group or want to join an existing group, we want to help.”

Climate change minister Julie James said: “I am pleased we have been able to increase funding to the community-led housing sector and continue a joint programme with the Nationwide Foundation.

“Community-led housing must remain a part of the housing solution in Wales, our support for the sector is as strong now as it was ten years ago and the commitment set out in our Programme for Government reaffirms this. All sectors in Wales face challenges in these unprecedented times and community-led housing is no different, but we remain committed to working together to overcome barriers together.”

Gary Hartin, the Nationwide Foundation’s programme manager, said: ”Community-led housing can be a workable alternative method for delivering genuinely affordable housing. It can create homes that local people need in the places where they want them. The conditions for this to happen are strong in Wales and by continuing to fund Communities Creating Homes, we aim to cement the sector’s position as well as increasing the supply of decent, affordable homes.”

The community-led housing sector in Wales uses a range of models, including small groups of friends buying a house to share, leaseholders setting up a tenant management committee, community members buying local land for housing, and people who want to develop sustainable homes.

Projects supported through Communities Creating Homes include:

Tir Cyffredin Housing Co-operative, Machynlleth

The Communities Creating Homes team have been supporting Tir Cyffredin (which translates into English as Common Land) since 2020. With CCH the group learnt how to set up a housing co-op, raise capital through a mortgage and community funding (£280,000 in total) and buy their house. None of the residents had any previous experience of home ownership, setting up a co-op or raising funds. With help from CCH they have taken control of their housing situation guaranteeing at least seven extra affordable rooms to let for decades to come. CCH also helped them raise £8,000 to remedy urgent damp work identified in a survey removing the risk of damp related illness and helped them apply for further funding to reduce the impacts of fuel poverty and carbon emissions.  

Tir Cyffredin Housing Co-op

Gŵyr Community Land Trust CiC

The Gower peninsula in Swansea is an area of the country in which second-home ownership has inflated property prices, decimated the rental market and left locals priced out or precariously housed. Here the CCH team supported Gŵyr Community Land Trust CiC, a group of people local to the area who, in their own words “aim to build sustainable, zero carbon, low impact, stylish, healthy community-led homes for both local residents and the environment to thrive, which will become a replicable model for sustainable housing developments throughout Wales and the UK.” The CCH team have been working with the group throughout the pandemic period and beyond, to establish legal structure, develop plans, and find land.

Communities Creating Homes published a report this year calling for the introduction of a Community Ownership and Empowerment Act to help community groups deliver perpetually affordable housing in their local areas. The proposed changes would give sustainable community organisations a statutory first right of refusal over the assets in their community when they are proposed for sale or transfer.