March 2021

The month started with a seminar put on by West Midlands Urban Community Homes (wMUCH) on partnership working. wMUCH is the local hub for Community Led Homes (CLH). There were some great notes about working with Housing Associations (HAs), Developers, and Local Authorities (LAs).

The Housing Association session was particularly inspiring. As anticipated, a HA can act as an umbrella Registered Provider (RP) of social housing for us. They can channel folks for our social rent homes towards us. (These people will be full members of the community – though not the Mutual Home Ownership Society aspect of it – so will need to fulfil all membership criteria, like embracing diversity, etc.)

However, more than that, some HAs will fund part of the building of the community, equivalent to the number of social rent homes. (In CoHoWM, all homes will be indistinguishable in terms of build and finish.) We will own the freehold (land) and they will own the leasehold (buildings). We would have an opportunity to buy out the HA’s leaseholds, after around forty years or so. (This whole deal benefits the HA, because they can use the buildings as collatoral for further borrowing.)

wMUCH also granted us four days consultancy time. This is spread out over:

  • Creating a brief Outline Business Case, to give to a wide range of stakeholders, such as potential members, lenders, business partners, Local Authorities, land holders, etc.
  • Assembling our current membership materials into a focussed package to give to potential members.
  • Creating a Partnership Case, emphasising the reasons why stakeholders should want to partner with us – e.g. why public bodies should look favourably upon us when making land allocations available.
  • Creating a Site-Finding Brief, to firm up our own ideas, but largely to give to folks such as estate agents, who we might hire to look for land on our behalf.

Our consultant reviewed the documents that we have produced for ourselves over the last few years, and gave us a kind and gentle boot up the backside! It is now time for us to ensure that we have good and concise materials to give to other people and organisations as applicable. Much work has been done following the consultant’s suggestions, and continues to be done.

We had a very useful meeting with Middlemarch, a group that specialises in bringing together Community Led Housing groups and Registered Providers (of social housing).

In addition we had our usual social and working groups this month. Perhaps with a greater (and welcome) emphasis on working than we have had previously in lockdown.

Published by CoHoWM

Cohousing West Midlands is (surprise) a cohousing project for the West Midlands! Cohousing is where everyone has their own front door, but there's also a community house for weekly shared meals and activities, and other shared spaces. More than a Housing Association, and less than a co-op!

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