Building a Brighter Future: The Benefits of Community Led Housing in Brighton and Hove

BHCLT Brighton & Hove Community Land Trust

Community Wealth Building

Helen Bartlett:


Brighton and Hove Community Land Trust Speech

Thank you and I think it’s important to say here we’re not directly an advice service although by the function that we would really like to fulfil so what we do more is we try and support and campaign for community-led housing in the city and we see community-led housing as a potential solution to the housing crisis that we’re in.


So our vision is there a city where all current and future residents regardless of their income have affordable and secure housing and where the people of the city have homes that reflect their diversity and creativity local people have genuine control and choice in how they live and the city makes the best of its resources and so community-led housing for those who don’t know is a way in which groups of people come together to find shared solutions to their own housing needs.


So it could be about creating housing that’s affordable and secure for low-income people it could be about creating homes for Lgbtq+ people, we work with groups who are working with like young disabled adults but the critical thing is its groups of people who are working together often with the council and with the state but kind of taking control of their housing themselves and it takes different forms, Housing Cooperatives Community Land trusts etc. 


We’ve had a lot of horrific stories, homelessness is so much the sharp edge of the housing situation we’re in but I also think it’s really important to look at it so widely you know housing is inaccessible for what is becoming the vast majority of people in our city.


These are some statistics and they’re from the 2019 Brighton and Hove City Council housing market report the reason, it’s a bit out of date because that’s the last one that was published that an average three-bed house so it’s worse now an average three-bed house costs £481,703 pounds and so to buy it requires an annual household income of £109,999. the median gross household income in Brighton and hold is £29,100, a third earning under £20,000. 


So that means that like buying a house is  Out Of Reach for so many people, if there isn’t like family and hereditary wealth there…

Meanwhile average rental costs at that time took up 68% of the median household income  and and we also know about some of  the other problems in the kind of  private rented sector. 


More recent analysis we did for a  kind of scheme that we’re building up showed that the market went for a  two-bed property is £1,584 and the current local housing allowance which is obviously Frozen at  the moment it’s 1 000 pounds um so it’s just it’s just becoming um so difficult and for us one of the ways that we look at that and that’s been touched on as well and we’ll come back on that.


Who owns our city because we know right we know that there is development happening we can see it everywhere there are cranes everywhere so we need to ask the questions of like what’s being built for  whom is it providing affordable housing  is it providing the housing for the people in the city who we want to live  here who is our city for  um we would really recommend that um  people have a watch of uh push the film  which is about um the financialisation of housing um and I think uh later uh Jim referred  to him uh Councillor Matthew Brown from Preston is going to look at  um their Community wealth building model.


Community wealth building is one of both, I think it’s some four strategic priorities of Brighton and Hove City Council at the moment so they are looking at it too um and what he will talk about is a way that we can start to look at land and property through a lens of what benefits the community in the city rather than kind of through extracted wealth purposes. 


I’m just going to show you this is a  housing Co-op that exists in the city um it will tell you so a housing  Cooperative is a form of collective ownership,  if you know it’s made up of its members they’re the landlords and the Tenants and this is the housing called bunker housing Co-op who are building homes on Council owned sites really really beautiful sustainable Eco homes and their aim was to build high-quality homes for low-income people.


It’s an organisation that’s looking at building high-quality homes for low-income people they’re working with the Council on-site small infill sites that have been identified as possible for Housing Development so most of them kind of have to know the potential to go two to like six homes on them. 


They are a group of people who are project managing it working with  Architects and so on to kind of build these homes that will remain because, they’ll be cooperative owned so they’re, super sustainable really like energy efficient which is obviously the rest of the homes that we should be building and working in a partnership with Council for a nominations agreement and so on and as I said because they’re cooperatively owed they don’t ever move into like private ownership so they are never subject to like things like the right to buy, they always remain like that.


So that’s an example of a co-op that is doing it at the moment um the council does support community-led housing and there are sites that are coming, there are sites that are coming through we have what’s called a community-led housing pathway, where kind of again those small sites and groups go and have a look at the site and see if what they look like is suitable for their needs.


At the moment it’s a lot of quite small sites because obviously one of the things here is or one of the things that is said here is that you know there’s a  lot of competition, especially for land in the city I think where we as an organisation would like to go.


There are cities countries in the world in which forms of community-led Housing and especially Housing Cooperatives are so much more predominant,  in Vienna I think housing coops account for some 40% of the housing stock of the city and that’s because of governmental and local government policies that have kind of support that as a way of building and developing. 


So I think what we’re looking at is kind of using the small sites as a way to move on and say let’s do something bigger and let’s look at if we were to look at something again and what we’re saying at the moment is if we were to look at something for a community wealth building lens, what would we do differently for land and property? and how would we kind of do that together and very quickly? 


This is another project that we’re working on at the moment student housing is obviously conflictual in the city, I think often people see students’ identification in the city is kind of part of the problem of housing we kind of spin that a bit and look at it a bit differently which is that students are also kind of our young people and they’re often some of the people who are the most subject as well so like really where landlords take advantage of like their youth and inexperience and then subjected to really awful living conditions.


We work with a group, we have this partnership in which the CLT, we raised money through a mortgage and a  community share issue and built a house that we lease to students and we see that as kind of supporting the next generation of Cooperators and of people who kind of subscribe to those values that are involved in those movements so we bought a house.


We looked at kind of buying hotels we bought a house in Moulscoombe that was already a house of multiple occupation, obviously, we know one of the issues in some of the areas is we know one of the issues is that kind of conversion of family homes into HMOs and we didn’t want to feed into that but what we’re doing is supporting a project in which those young people kind of really try and they want to engage differently with their local community, you know they see it as not just about affordable housing it’s about how we like to work differently in groups and with the kind of communities around.




Helen Bartlett Brighton and Hove Community Land Trust Speech Finished

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