What is Community-led development?

Community-led development is generally defined as a project where local people have come together in response to a local need or opportunity to collectively design or manage their own housing development.

Why it matters

Where we live and the housing we live in is a critical part of our wellbeing and happiness. People’s satisfaction is based on the quality of their homes from the inside to the outside - to the streets, the public spaces and the facilities in the wider neighbourhood. It is here where people meet their neighbours and build the social bonds upon which a community develops.


Find out how Bristol Community Land Trust transformed a rundown school site into much needed new homes (see case study: Bristol Community Land Trust).

Our Design & Development programme

Cabe’s Community-led Design and Development programme takes a wider interpretation to look at how community organisations, tenant groups and the wider community can influence or take a lead in the way housing is designed and delivered.

Our research suggests that where residents and landlords work together, new housing is more likely to meet the needs of the community and create a place that residents feel proud of.

Our research suggests that where residents and landlords work together, new housing is more likely to meet the needs of the community and create a place that residents feel proud of. This means people want to stay in the neighbourhood and are more likely to look after it.

The Community-led Design and Development programme was funded by the Department for Communities and Local Government and included:

  • direct enabling support to resident and landlord organisations to bring about better tenant involvement and leadership to a housing project
  • learning events with study visits in Bristol, Liverpool, and Ealing in London
  • a range of interesting  case studies and guidance notes.

Our community-led aspirations

The purpose of the work has been to provide evidence, practical learning and tips for everyone – tenants, communities, landlords, professionals and local authorities – to work better together in designing, delivering and managing housing that works for the people who live there now and, importantly, for future generations.

We hope [this work] will encourage resident and community-led groups to start thinking about opportunities to lead on housing themselves.

We hope it will encourage resident and community-led groups to start thinking about opportunities to lead on housing themselves, whether to meet the needs of the local community or as an opportunity to improve the quality of the existing neighbourhood. There are some inspiring case studies below that describe how others have done it. 


Discover how tenants and residents were involved in the regeneration of their estate (see case study: Green Man Lane Estate, London)

Discover more: Case studies, Briefing and Technical papers

The Routemap

Our Routemap below is a good place to start. Part A sets out the steps a community group can take to lead on their own housing project, while Part B sets out how landlords can engage with their tenants and residents at each stage in the development process. There are links to the relevant sections of the Briefing Papers, which focus in more detail on topics that others have found challenging.

The Case studies

The case studies cover a range of circumstances and locations, giving examples of how organisations have worked in partnership to deliver or begin a housing project.

The Briefing papers

 The design process for a housing project can help to draw out what people want to achieve and bring about  some creative thinking to overcome site constraints. The briefing paper on design provides more detailed information on how to go about this, alongside papers on two other cornerstones of a successful development: good governance and understanding of viability.

The Technical papers

The technical papers share specific guidance drawn from the experience of working directly with organisations.

The content on this website does not attempt to be comprehensive, and there are lots of other sources of information on community-led housing development and resident engagement.

Resources