Spring 2021 Newsletter Banner Image


A very warm welcome to the Spring 2021 edition of the Homes of Our Own newsletter.

Homes of Our Own have a new team member, Rachel Robertson, who is working with Rebecca in a Project Support role and Louise is now on maternity leave. Working from home continues for the team with online meetings being a well-established communication method now. If you would like any help or support with setting up and hosting online meetings, please get in touch and you may also find our Virtual Meetings factsheet helpful.

Spring Event

We were all very pleased that so many zoomed in to the Homes of Our Own Spring ‘re-launch’ on the 25th February.

It was a terrific response and we are following up with detailed discussions in several towns and villages, across Wiltshire and Swindon.

Many thanks to the guest speakers from Seend Community Land and Asset Trust and White Horse Housing Association. Thanks also go to our partners Community First for introducing the event, to all our in-house experts for responding to many excellent questions, and to all the Homes of Our Own team for contributing and making it such a success.

The questions asked during the event have been translated into a frequently asked questions factsheet which can be found on the Resources Page of the Homes of Our Own website and is also included later on in this newsletter.

We hope that after the difficulties of 2020 we can now make real progress in supporting community-led housing across Wiltshire and Swindon.

Spring Event FAQs

Are the Spring Event (2021) presentations available?

Yes, they can be found on the Community Led Housing Resources section of our website. This includes the following:

  • Introduction to Community Led Housing
  • Housing Event FAQs

Do community led housing groups consult Parish Councils prior to planning applications, also does community led housing take note and adhere to local Neighbourhood Plans?

Local councils should be engaged in community led housing proposals from their inception as their support will be key when a planning application is submitted. Community led housing proposals should conform to the Neighbourhood Plan or provide justification for not doing so.

Do community led housing hubs have good relationships with the church/diocese?

Work is underway nationally to engage with the Church over land for community led housing.

What is the definition of Community? 

The community could be defined as those living within inside a town or parish boundary, with a small group leading a project to build homes for the wider community. It may be a group of self-builders working together to build eco-homes on a site they mutually own/lease. Or it could be a co-housing scheme where the founder members of the community take the lead on planning the development and seeking out members to move into the homes as the project evolves.

Is it normal for Parish Council to lead on this or is it better if it is a different group?

It is best practice for a community led housing project to be led by a group of community volunteers, rather than being led by the council. It may be that the local council initiates a project and then seeks volunteers to come forward to shape and steer the proposal, with the council’s support.

Is there a body or agency to which community led housing group committee decisions and such must be justified or answerable to?

The community led housing group committee, or steering group, will be answerable to their members. Where they have incorporated as a company or charity, they will also have to submit annual financial/regulatory returns each year.

Is there a Self-Build Register interested individuals need to put their names on?

Wiltshire and Swindon both have self-build registers. Applications can be made to the relevant local authority via these websites: –

The local plan has identified a need for housing in my village and a recent housing needs survey identified a need for affordable homes. What is the best approach to work with more than one landowner to share the housing allocation to provide smaller schemes to lessen the impact and make them more acceptable?

A site selected for community led development should be driven by it being able to accommodate the identified need. It is more efficient to service one site for 10 homes than two for 5, for example. The cost of the development will directly affect the affordability of the homes for future occupiers and so is an important consideration and will determine if a scheme is viable or not.

Start-Up Grants for New Groups

start up grants for new community led housing groups

We are pleased to launch our new grant funding programme for new and emerging groups.

The funds are available to groups that have not received funding from previous community led housing grant programmes in Wiltshire and Swindon.

The grants are to cover community led housing project set-up costs, up to £2,000, including but not limited to:

  • Forming a community organisation;
  • Training sessions for members of the management team where Homes of Our Own are unable to provide this training;
  • Costs associated with public engagement, recruiting members and consulting on your project;
  • Registration fees for the use of online meeting platforms such as Zoom;
  • Publicity materials;
  • Costs of incorporation, membership of a national body, registration with the Financial Conduct Authority, registration with the Information Commissioner’s Office and insurance.

Who can apply?

The grants are open to new and emerging community led housing groups in Wiltshire and Swindon.

In order to be awarded funding, a group must either be an incorporated organisation or be able to nominate an eligible organisation to hold the grant on their behalf, such as their town or parish council.

How much grant funding can be applied for?

Grants of up to £2,000 are available to each group to assist towards the costs of setting up a community led housing group.

What information is needed to apply?

Grant applications will be required to clearly set out the proposed use of the funding and when the spend will occur.

Will unspent funds have to be returned?

The funding will be non-returnable on spend; however, any unspent funds must be returned.

What are the timescales associated with the funding?

Applications will only be accepted for expenditure within the following twelve months and up to a maximum of 12 months after becoming an incorporated organisation, whichever is the longest. Activity that took place prior to the date of the grant agreement will not be funded, and applications cannot be made retrospectively.

How many times can a grant be applied for?

One application, up to the maximum funding available for initial project set up costs of up to £2,000 per group, is permitted.

For more information please visit our Resources page and download the factsheet called ‘Start Up Grants 2021-2022 Factsheet’

Affordable Housing & Local Authority Housing Registers

5.	Affordable Housing and Local Authority Housing Registers

Housing costs can create barriers for some households; house prices and rental costs in many areas of Wiltshire and Swindon mean that people on low or modest incomes face difficulties finding decent, secure, affordable accommodation. Households may have to move away from the area they grew up in or the community where they are employed, 

upsetting the balance of the community and damaging the take up of local services. In some areas this can result in closure of schools, shops and pubs, and businesses may struggle to find local employees, as a result of housing being unaffordable to many from the area.

Affordable housing, which can be low cost accommodation for rent or shared ownership homes, can provide homes for people with modest incomes who can’t afford accommodation on the open market. Affordable homes help to sustain communities by offering local people the chance to remain where they have strong connections and are allocated on the basis of need.

Households wishing to be considered for affordable housing need to apply to join their Local Authority’s housing register. In Swindon the housing register is called Home Bid and in Wiltshire the housing register is called Homes4Wiltshire.

To apply to join the Local Authority’s housing register  you will need to fill out an application form online and you will also need to provide documentation to support your application such as ID, Proof of residency in Wiltshire or an employment contract/payslips if your local connection is via employment.

Applications are assessed in terms of local connection criteria based on residency, family and employment factors, as well as the household’s financial situation. Broadly speaking applicants should have a maximum of £16,000 capital/savings and a household income of less than £80,000 per annum. Full details of qualifying criteria are available on the Swindon Borough Council HomeBid webpage and the Wiltshire Council Homes4Wiltshire website .

GOGA (Get Out Get Active) Project

goga project update

Helen from WVHA (Wiltshire Village Halls Association and Alex and Katrina (Senior Community Organisers at Community First) have been in touch with members of the Codford community and are looking forward to the time when we can visit there to offer Community Organising Training to support the Goga Project at the local Village Hall.

We know the village is very quiet and people have unsurprisingly lost touch with each other. However, the people going out to get vaccinated have praised the experience and said it was well organised. Well done NHS.

One of the partners Community First are working with on the Goga (Get Out and Get Active) are the Wiltshire Centre for Independent Living based in Devizes.

Recently Helen attended their online programme titled Make Someone Welcome covering the topic of inclusivity and all about their campaign which aims to get people from all walks of life connected in our community.

It is really beneficial and if you would like to sign up for resources you can contact the Make Someone Welcome project team on 03001233442 or email: mary@wiltshirecil.org.uk

Celebrating 100 Years Together: Village Halls Week 2021

village halls week 2021

During January, WVHA celebrated #VillageHallsWeek, championing and promoting the important role village halls play in local communities. We recognised how village halls across Wiltshire and Swindon are survivors. Many have been bringing people together in rural communities since the 1920s.

And in the past year, the volunteers who manage these buildings have shown great determination and resilience in the face of Coronavirus, negotiating lockdowns and putting in place Covid Secure measures so they could continue supporting their local community. As social gatherings are currently off limits, Village Halls Week looked a bit different this year, but the community spirit was still felt.

As part of #VillageHallsWeek, Helen Akiyama spoke to BBC Radio Wiltshire and also held a Zoom Networking Event for Wiltshire Village Halls Association members.

A total of 35 halls attended the event over 3 sessions with a variety of topics discussed. It was great to hear new ideas and recommendations from halls – thank you to everyone who attended.

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The Community Led Homes Enabler Hub Grants Programme aims to expand the network of specialist regional organisations helping groups of local people to develop their own community led housing solutions. Funded by the Community Housing Fund from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG). More information can be found at www.communityledhomes.org.uk/get-funding