Understanding the processes of scaling-up community-led housing

Since leaving the Grantham Centre, Philippa Hughes has been working at the University of the West of England as a research associate on the BiUrbs project, exploring barriers and enablers to delivering biodiversity through new development. In October 2023 she will start an ESRC post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Liverpool.

When she was a Grantham Scholar, Philippa’s research compared community-led housing development across 3 UK regions using a qualitative research design.

Project overview

Philippa’s research explores factors involved in the development of the community-led housing sector in England. The project investigates the role of wider environmental, political, and social factors in enabling community-led housing development. Plus she examines the role of professional support for community groups in growing the movement.


Community-led housing is, broadly, any housing in which community members have significant and ongoing engagement in the development process, that involves some form of collective ownership or stewardship and is explicitly beneficial to the local community. Key models of community-led housing include community land trusts, co-ops, cohousing projects, and varieties of self-build. These practices demonstrate the potential for developing housing in ways that are more locally focused, participatory and equitable as well as offering unique solutions to specific affordability crises.

After a recent period of growth in England, it is hoped that the numbers of homes delivered through community-led housing will continue to increase over the coming years. A network of regional enabling hubs has been established to facilitate this. This research investigates the ways in which these hubs enable growth at a regional level through a comparative analysis of three case studies of regional enabling hubs supported by research conducted with national stakeholders.

Research methods

The research compares community-led housing development across three regions using a qualitative research design. Through comparison, key enabling and constraining factors in community-led housing can be identified and the processes through which community-led housing development is facilitated can be mapped out.

Philippa Hughes outreach

community-led housing researcher Philippa Hughes
Philippa Hughes

Interview: What is community-led housing?

In late 2021 we interviewed Philippa about her research. In the interview she explains what community-led housing is and how it exposes problems with the housing sector. Plus she tells us how community-led leads the way in sustainable housing and has its roots in radical political movements. Read: What is community-led housing?

Foodhall: feeding Sheffield during lockdown. Watch Philippa and fellow Scholar Nicole explain how Foodhall fed Sheffield during lockdown on our YouTube channel.


In 2021, Philippa and fellow Grantham Scholar Charles Gillott hosted a forum on innovative housing solutions. They both research housing, but Philippa is based in social sciences and Charles is an engineer. In this blog they reflect on what they learned through the forum and from one another. Read: Interdisciplinary Forum on Innovative Housing Solutions. If you want to watch a sample of this forum, then check out the YouTube link below.

The right to housing in the context of the climate emergency in the UK. In this blog, written for Just Fair, Philippa looks at the relationship of housing to the climate crisis and women’s rights.

Sustainability webinars 2021

Philippa Hughes and other Grantham Scholars organised a webinar about housing as part of our public engagement work in 2021. For this event, experts from NationWide and community-led housing projects discussed innovation in housing supply. Now this webinar is available on our YouTube channel.

You can watch How can we enable sustainable innovation in the UK housing supply? by clicking the video below.

Foodhall volunteer work

Philippa volunteers at Foodhall, a community kitchen in Sheffield. During lockdown Foodhall transformed into a food delivery service for  those struggling to access food. We interview Philippa to find out more about Foodhall and what it was like volunteering their during the pandemic. Read the interview here.

Annual Symposium 2020

At our Annual Symposium 2020 Philippa spoke about her research and her work with Foodhall. Plus the impact the pandemic had on food insecurity in Sheffield. You can find more here: Symposium ’20: Racial justice, Covid and the SDGs.

Social media

You can find Philippa Hughes on Twitter.


Professor John Flint

Department of Urban Studies and Planning


Tom Moore

School of Environmental Sciences, University of Liverpool