Engagement of current/potential residents from outset

Effective collaboration involves thorough and meaningful engagement with residents or a community from the beginning. This can be taken even further, and individuals or a group can [mutually] become the agents of co-living in their own housing projects. The result of this community-led approach are homes and communities, services or activities that better fulfil the shared aspirations of those living in them.

Within the context of CollaborAGE, below we have collated examples primarily through the lens of housing for older people under the following categories:

Community-led housing (CLH) is where people and communities play a leading role in addressing their own housing needs. CLH sector bodies have agreed a definition of Community-Led Housing that is based on 3 core principles:

  • A requirement that meaningful community engagement and consent occurs throughout the process. The community does not necessarily have to initiate and manage the development process, or build the homes themselves, though some may do.
  • The local community group or organisation owns, manages or stewards the homes and in a manner of their choosing.
  • A requirement that the benefits of the scheme to the local area and/or specified community group are clearly defined and legally protected in perpetuity e.g. through an asset lock.

Case Studies

In a housing co-op, residents have control over their own housing, without actually owning it personally. The legal structure itself (technically an Industrial and Provident Society) owns the property, takes out mortgages, and receive rent from tenants. In turn, the housing co-op is managed collaboratively by its ‘members’, who have to be either tenants or prospective tenants of the co-op.

“We should have a Breedon Gardens in every community up and down the country, enabling older people to run things themselves, take charge of their lives and provide mutual support in a thriving, active and engaging way.”

Dr Chris Handy OBE LLM, CEO Accord Group

Co-housing consists of an intentional community of private homes, located around some communal space and shared facilities. The concept originated in Denmark in the 1960s and 1970s, and became established across Scandinavia, Holland Germany and the US. Co-housing schemes are self-governing communities, managed by the people who live there.

The financial and legal structure can vary, with examples of homes being sold at market value on a long lease or let, with a members’ company or housing association owning freehold of the land; and other examples of members buying shares in a mutual company which owns the site and properties, and then contributing a proportion of their income on an ongoing basis, accruing more shares with time.

“If cohousing is to be developed alongside older age care delivery, as informal care to keep people in a supportive home community for longer, then we need to put into place the systems that will help people develop them.”

Allan Shepherd, Community Housing Officer, Mid and North Wales

“Life in Cohousing is an intense but enjoyable experience, not for the faint hearted, but definitely for those people who want to know and be social with their neighbours, take active interest and manage their own facilities and finances.”

Jan Chadwick, Cohousing, resident, Marmalade Lane

Case Studies

“We need to press the case for cementing co-production brick by brick into the foundations of ‘care ready’ housing and communities.”

Jeremy Porteus, Housing LIN

Co-production is an approach which seeks to value equally the contribution of professionals and citizens. A co-production methodology can be applied to housing and support developments.  

Case Studies

As featured in RIBA’s age-friendly housing publication, the Future Homes Alliance (opens new window) is a University of Newcastle anchored Community Interest Company that has adopted an innovative ‘living lab’ approach to engage with local residents to co-produce housing that will cater to the needs and aspirations of present, future and all generations in the city.

For more on ‘living labs’ and how housing could embrace further, read the Housing LIN viewpoint:

Further information and examples on co-production

“Co-production is about sharing power and working together equally to produce something, whether you are producing knowledge or improving services the who idea is you are doing it together.”


Fran Branfield, Disability activist