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  • Writer's pictureAdele Leah

Community-led Development

Community-led development provides an alternative to the developer driven model. In this model the end users of the development are integrally and meaningfully involved in both the design and project delivery process. The local community may also be involved, and together with the end users, they can take a long-term role in the ownership and management of the development.

In a community-led model the nature of the client changes, and this can impact a project's aims and priorities. The top priority is not likely to be related to generating profit from the land, but is likely to be provision of the best possible homes with the financial resources which are available. Homes and communal spaces can be designed to meet the needs of the end users, and there is potential to provide considerable social benefit, in the creation of resilient and cohesive neighbourhoods.

Cohousing and Collective Housing

Cohousing incorporates shared amenities alongside individual homes to provide the infrastructure required to enable communities to flourish. Cohousing is similar to Papakāinga, which is generally considered to be a communal development on ancestral land owned by Māori. In cohousing, shared amenities are usually provided in a community building which typically contains a communal living space which provides space for social activities, a large kitchen for communal cooking, laundry facilities, children's play areas and guest rooms. Amenities for the wider community can also be provided as part of the cohousing development.

Internationally, there are numerous cohousing precedents, and Marmalade Lane is a recently completed (2018) cohousing community in Cambridge (United Kingdom). It is a neighbourhood of 42 award-winning homes with community facilities, a shared garden and car-free lane. For more information, see:

In Aotearoa, New Zealand, Earthsong Eco-Neighbourhood is an urban cohousing community located in Auckland. You can read about Earthsong here:

Collective housing developments are often designed to be intergenerational, with homes and neighbourhoods designed to encourage day-to-day interactions between all age groups. Many older people appreciate having the opportunity to help out young families, who in turn value their time and experience. Residents enjoy belonging to a community and benefit from reduced living costs. Collective housing developments are often efficiently and sustainably designed, and include shared amenities such as communal cooking facilities, outdoor living areas and laundries.

Current house prices are unaffordable for many, and alternatives to the developer driven model should be explored. A community-led model, with opportunities for self-build and/or self-finish, volunteer time, the potential access to grant funding, end users guiding design and spending decisions, and the removal of developer profit, could potentially reduce delivery cost and therefore improve housing affordability.

Contact us if you are thinking about implementing a community-led housing project, as we would love to collaborate with you!


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