On 9 July the Housing and Communities Research Group held a conference to connect international academic research, local community activism and policy debates and support community-led housing in Birmingham and the West Midlands.
The 100 places at the conference were fully taken by a rich mix of local community organisations and stakeholders, academic and practice based researchers from England and Europe, and some of the key policy makers and activists involved in the Community Housing Fund and the Birmingham Community Homes partnership which have already begun to define a new era for community-led housing in the region.
Buoyed up by the Secretary of State’s announcement of £163 million Community Housing Fund expenditure by 2020 on July 2nd, the conference helped local activists to set a vision for action through the newly formed Birmingham Community Homes partnership which hopes to deliver 4,000 community-led homes in the City and region by 2031. Inspiring stories were shared from Vienna, Leeds, Stoke and more locally from new and old groups in Birmingham to identify the difference that community control can make for flourishing neighbourhoods. A notable feature of the conference was the opportunity for dialogue between research and practice, including accessible summaries of international academic journal papers and discussion of their implications for policy and practice.
A central theme of the conference was to understand how community-led housing can be most effectively supported. A core research workshop on ‘Cooperative capital’ explored the multi-level support structures found in Vienna and in England including the key role played by intermediaries such as umbrella bodies and hubs. A Birmingham practice focused workshop explored the potential of the new Birmingham Community Homes hub to harness support from the City Council and local stakeholders to re-energise and multiply our heritage of cooperative and community controlled housing in the City region. Another practice workshop focused on the existing housing stock, particularly in the rapidly growing private rented sector, and the scope for community-based initiatives to bring empty homes into use, create opportunities for residents and improve their quality of life, refurbish existing homes, improve the quality of the existing stock and stimulate improvement of neighbourhoods.
The final plenary provided some direct lessons and policy and research experiences for Birmingham including the role played by Leeds Community Homes in the Leeds City Region, the role that community anchor organisations can play from Locality, the role of partnerships with housing associations and the role of cooperatives and Tenant Management Organisations in Birmingham. A key slide ’the Role of Birmingham City Council’ in the penultimate presentation from Confederation for Cooperative Housing provided a key way forward for the city. Councillor Karen McCarthy gave a considered response for the City Council referring to the Cooperative Council Innovation Network report ‘Community-Led Housing: A key role for Local Authorities’ (www.ccinhousing.co.uk) which provides a clear steer to local authorities to support CLH though planning and land, asset transfers and building in community-led housing.
- Download the conference programme here [.PDF]
Below are links to a number of presentations that were delivered at the conference:
- Opening Plenary - Welcome and purpose (David Mullins)
- Community Led Housing - The National Policy Agenda (Isobel Wade, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government)
- A five year perspective from the sector (Tom Chance, Acting Director, National CLT Network)
- We are Homes England (Matt Dodd, Senior Specialist - Rural and Communities Manager)
- The Birmingham Picture (Afzal Hussain, Witton Lodge and Peter Richmond, Birmingham Community-led Housing Partnership)
- Hope for Housing - An international view (Richard Lang, Universities of Birmingham and Linz)
- Enabling and supporting structures for collaborative housing in Vienna (Ernst Gruber, Austrian Collaborative Housing Umbrella)
- Morning workshop - Getting below the surface of the international research
- Cooperative Capital - How to facilitate Community-Led Housing? (Richard Lang and David Mullins)
- What about existing housing? Using existing housing (Cheryl Dockery, Chief Officer, SGOHT)
- What about existing housing? Better use of existing stock part 1 (Jon Fitzmaurice, Self-Help Housing)
- What about existing housing? Better use of existing stock part 2 (Jon Fitzmaurice, Self-Help Housing)
- What about existing housing? Spring Housing Association (Rachel Chiu, Spring Housing)
- Making the most of Morton Street (Amelia Bilson, Middleport Matters)
- Making things happen across the city region – learning from Leeds (Steve Hoey, Leeds Community Homes)
- Community-led housing and partnerships in practice (Dr Tom Moore, Liverpool University)
- Building on the experience of cooperative housing in Birmingham (Blase Lambert, Confederation of Co-operative Housing)
- Building on Birmingham's success with Tenant Management Organisations (Nick Reynolds, Roman Way and National Federation of TMOs)
- Summing up the day (David Mullins)
To add your own reflections, email David Mullins at email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Hope for Housing Conference report, November 2018
- HCRG Conference Special Newsletter Summer 2018