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Community Housing Fund: get ready for the launch

15 July 2021

The prospectus for the next round of the Community Housing Fund should be published in August. Groups hoping to apply need to start preparing now.

Extensive campaigning by community-led housing groups and umbrella bodies paid off earlier this year, with the announcement that an additional £4 million of revenue funding would be made available to CLH groups under the Community Housing Fund.

The prospectus is not due to be published in August, but Community Led Homes partners recently briefed all their members about what we know about the Fund so far.  This article summarises the key points.

Community Led Homes are collating feedback and questions about the proposals, which they will put to Government before the prospectus is published.  If you have anything to say, please contact Community Led Homes here, or let us know and we will pass it on.

What is the Community Housing Fund?

  • A £4 million fund, aimed at increasing the supply of affordable housing.
  • It will provide revenue grants to cover the costs of project-specific pre-development activities, including RP registration costs.

Who is the Community Housing Fund aimed at?

  • Community-led housing groups in England, outside of the Greater London Authority.
  • Projects at the later stages of pre-development.
  • Covers new build and refurb/conversion.
  • To help projects complete the work required to:
    • submit a full planning application or reserved matters;
    • submit a detailed application to Regulator to become an RP/ IP;
    • submit a capital funding bid; or
    • get started on site.
    • Groups providing affordable housing.  This might include social rent, affordable rent, shared ownership or discounted market value sales (where there is a covenant on the title to keep homes permanently affordable).

Timescale

  • Prospectus expected to launch in August.
  • Grant will need to be spent by March 2022.
  • This is a very short timescale, so groups need to be prepared to apply as soon as the Fund is launched.

Eligibility criteria

Applicants will need to prove deliverability of their project, by providing evidence that:

  • they own a suitable site/property, or there is certainty about obtaining a legal interest;
  • sufficient feasibility work has been completed to demonstrate financial viability;
  • there is a clear route to obtaining planning consent (evidence of planning advice should be included); and
  • there is a realistic project plan to spend the grant by the end of March 2022.

These criteria are yet to be finalised, so things may yet change in the final prospectus.

Applying for the Fund

  • No minimum or maximum amount which can be applied for.  Crucial thing is how much you can spend by the end of March.
  • Groups will first need to submit an expression of interest form, followed by an online application form. 
  • It will be first come, first served, so get applications in promptly.

Getting ready for the launch

Groups hoping to access the Fund should do as much as possible to prepare now, so they can apply as soon as it opens.  It would help to start pulling together the following documentation:

  • Evidence of community engagement;
  • Your proposed allocations policy and any evidence it is supported by the local authority;
  • Evidence that you own a site/buildings, or have a secure route to obtaining one;
  • Evidence of planning advice which confirms you have a good chance of obtaining planning consent (if you don’t already have it), such as a report from a planning consultant or advice obtained from the local planning authority;
  • Feasibility work;
  • Valuation reports for land/buildings and rental values, done by a RICS valuer;
  • Demonstration of other funders’ in principle support, including capital funding; and
  • 1 year cash flow for the organisation.

This information is based on the information we have so far about the Community Housing Fund 2021/2.  It may change when the final prospectus is published but is intended to give groups thinking about applying a headstart. 

Thank you to the Community Led Homes partners for continuing to push for this funding, which will make a huge difference to the CLH sector.

If you would like to discuss any aspect of this article further, please contact Laura Moss or any other member of the community-led housing team on 0113 244 6100.

You can also keep up to date by following Wrigleys charities team on Twitter here and sign up to receive our dedicated community-led housing newsletter here.

The information in this article is necessarily of a general nature. Specific advice should be sought for specific situations. If you have any queries or need any legal advice please feel free to contact Wrigleys Solicitors.

Laura Moss View Biography

Laura Moss

Partner
Leeds

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