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Some of the terminology relating to community housing and custom build homes.

There’s often a lot of confusion about the terminology that is being used with housing, particularly when associated with community projects. We hope the following explanations (in alphabetical order) help, listed under the following categories:

Community housing


Sometimes referred to as participatory design, co-design is an approach to design attempting to actively involve all future residents and any other stakeholders. We enable this through a series of weekly workshops where we would need at least half of the households attending. The workshops are designed to help the new community decide on issues such as the type of homes they wish to live in, what shared amenities they would like, the legal structure of the new community and how it is managed. 

cohousing (usually written without a hyphen)

An intentional community of private homes clustered around shared space. Each attached or single family home has traditional amenities, including a private kitchen. Shared spaces typically feature a Common House, which may include a large kitchen and dining area, laundry, and recreational spaces. The degree of cohousing in a project would be decided by the residents during our co-design stage.

collaborative housing

This umbrella term (more commonly used in Europe) encompasses the wide range of alternative or ‘user-led’ forms of housing provision, including the re-emergence of resident- or community-led housing initiatives, both in practice and in academia.

Common House

The concept of a Common House (that can be called anything the community group decide on) is a typical central feature in a cohousing community and tends to act almost like a second home. Co-designed by the residents, it would include social spaces and shared amenities such as a multi-purpose room, workshop space, a kitchen, laundry, perhaps a small office and a mail room. The build cost would be shared by the community.

Community Land Trust (CLT)

An option for our projects, this is a form of community housing that is set-up and run by the residents to develop and manage homes as well as other assets. The CLT would act as long-term steward of the housing, ensuring that it remains genuinely affordable, based on what people actually earn in their area, not just for now but for every future occupier. More information can be found here:

Cooperative housing

A housing cooperative is, on one level, a group of people who have control over their own housing, without actually owning it personally. The legal structure, technically an Industrial and Provident Society, can be thought of as a separate person, who owns the property, takes out mortgages, and to whom the tenants pay rent.

intentional community

A planned residential community designed from the start to have a high degree of social cohesion and teamwork, with shared responsibilities and resources. This is the basis for all of our housing projects.

Land & Planning

Community infrastructure levy (CIL)

A levy on developments that contributes towards the services which must be provided by the local authority as a result. An alternative to a Section 106 Agreement (see below).

Housing Needs Survey

A questionnaire or other survey method designed to identify the extent of local need for affordable housing usually in rural areas and small settlements, and the type, size and tenure of housing required.

National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF)

States that the purpose of planning is to help achieve sustainable development and sets out the Government’s planning policies for England and how these are expected to be applied. Provides a framework within which local people and their accountable councils can produce their own distinctive local and neighbourhood plans which reflect the need and priorities of their communities.

Neighbourhood Plan

A document produced by the Local Planning Authority which deals with the development and use of land in line with the needs identified in the Local Plan. If supported by a majority of the community at a local referendum and the plan is subsequently “made” it becomes part of the Development Plan for the wider Local Authority area.


Rural Exception Site

A site that would not usually secure planning permission for housing, for example agricultural land next to but not within a local settlement area. It is deemed suitable for a small scheme predominantly of affordable housing to meet identified local needs, secured ‘in perpetuity’ via a legal undertaking or planning condition, where permission would not normally be granted for general market housing.

Section 106 Agreement

A type of planning obligation where planning approval is granted subject to a restriction e.g, concerning the allocations of the homes developed. They form a legally binding agreement between the local authority and the developer.

Buildings & Landscape


coming soon



coming soon

Health & Wellbeing


coming soon

Tenure & Management

affordable rent

Housing where the rents are no more than 80% of the level of rent on the open market.

Declaration of Trust

A formal legal agreement between a Community Land Trust (see above) and someone buying low cost housing from it, setting out the respective shares in the land held by the CLT and the buyer.  It is usually contained in a 125 year lease between the CLT and the buyer.  In some ways it is similar to shared ownership.

ground rent

This is a payment (usually annual) for leasehold property to the person who owns the freehold (see definitions below). A regular partnership model between a Community Land Trust (CLT) and a Housing association would see a CLT buy the land, with the housing association developing the scheme on a long-term lease. A ground rent is paid to the CLT by the housing association as part of this lease.

Housing Association also referred to as a Registered Social Landlord (RSL) or Registered Provider (RP)

Private, non-profit making organisations that provide low-cost "social housing" for people in need of a home. A more detailed explanation can be found here: Definitions of general housing terms: Housing associations

leasehold & freehold

The freeholder of a property owns it outright, including the land it’s built on and is responsible for maintaining the property and land. Most houses tend to be freehold but some might be leasehold – usually through shared-ownership schemes. Our projects can consist of either or both options.

Registered Social Landlord (RSL)

Housing Associations were referred to as Registered Social Landlords, although the term (private) Registered Provider of social housing is now commonly used. A more detailed explanation can be found here: Definitions of general housing terms: Housing associations

social and affordable housing

Affordable housing is social rented, affordable rented and intermediate housing, provided to eligible households whose needs are not met by the market. Social rented housing is owned by local authorities and private registered providers (as defined in section 80 of the Housing and Regeneration Act 2008), for which guideline target rents are determined through the national rent regime. More detailed information can be found here: Definitions of general housing terms: Social & Affordable Housing

tenure & management
land & planning
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