Co-housing must be made mainstream, urges think tank

A study conducted by the Smith Institute has called upon the government to introduce measures to move co-housing from the ‘margins to the mainstream’, claiming the move would make high quality, suitable and affordable developments the norm.

The study, entitled ‘Local housing community living: prospects for scaling up and scaling out community-led housing’, outlines initiatives that could make co-housing more popular. Theses include the reinstatement of the Empty Homes Community Grants Programme and the provision of more support and partnership working with local authorities and housing associations.

The study was drawn up based on a series of extensive interviews and proposes the introduction of government guarantee schemes, low-interest loans and seed corn-funding to increase the growth of the co-housing sector.

It also argues that the biggest challenge will be raising awareness and understanding of co-housing in a way that overcomes nimbyism and promotes responsible development keeping communities at its heart.

Paul Hackett, director of the Smith Institute, said: “Community-led housing provides an attractive and affordable alternative to conventional housing. Yet despite some growth and several awarding-winning projects the sector has yet to move from the margins to the mainstream.

“Indeed, its achievements are often under-recognised and much of the sector’s potential remains unrealised. The government could do more to support the sector, starting with renewing the grants to help local groups bring empty properties back into use.