North East Community Led Housing Festival 2021

Spread the word about the festival, promote it on social media using the hashtag: #neclhfest2021

Dates: Monday 29 Nov - Friday 3 Dec 2021


Online, via zoom video conferencing, plus Friday meet-up.

Organised by the North East Community-Led Development Network, the 2021 Festival will, once again, be held online – but we are also hosting a ‘Face-to-Face Friday’ networking get-together and panel discussion.

This year’s Festival focuses on the core issues of empty properties, land & assets, levelling-up and the decarbonisation of homes. We’ll explore the role of community-led housing (CLH) in relation to all these issues and highlight the huge opportunity that CLH presents.

Whether you are just interested in finding out more about community-led housing or you are already deeply involved and want to gain some inspiration from others, please book up below.

The 2021 Festival is free, and the format allows delegates to pick and choose the sessions they want to attend. You can attend just one or two sessions that are or particular interest or all the sessions – it’s up to you.

All sessions will last up to 90 minutes (2 hours for Face-to-Face Friday). Each will be chaired by a member of the Network’s Steering Group and there will be plenty of time for questions.


Monday 29 November: 10.00am – 11.30am
Creating a new life for empty properties

This session will explore how CLH is already breathing new life into empty homes and buildings across the country, drawing on the recently published Community Action on Empty Homes Toolkit. We’ll also be exploring just how CLTs and other community organisations can get their hands on empty commercial properties.
Introduction & Chair: Pete Duncan, Vice Chair of the NE Community-Led Development Network.

Presentation 1: Jon Fitzmaurice
Jon is the originator and director of which promotes and supports community-led self-help housing initiatives. Between 2011 – 2015 he worked closely with MHCLG to help deliver their £50m Empty Homes Community Grants Programme. He has worked in the housing/homelessness sector for over 35 years in a wide variety of executive and non-executive roles. Jon is a Board member at Action on Empty Homes.

Presentation 2: James Evans
James is a founding director of Community Spaces CIC. Community Spaces source commercial property for charities, community organisations and start-up businesses across the country. James will offer an insight into how CLTs can do just this.

Book for this session HERE

Tuesday 30 November: 2.00pm – 3.30pm
Land and assets for CLH

This session looks at how CLH groups can access land and assets. We’ll hear how the Church of England has re-assessed how it looks at its property assets through the Archbishop of Canterbury Commission’s Coming Home report and how CLH groups could get involved. We’ll also hear about the strategic approach taken in the Liverpool City Region to review the use of public land for community wealth building – the first land commission in England, publishing their report in July 2021. What could the North East learn from this approach?

Introduction & Chair: Tom Johnston, Communities CAN (North East) Co-ordinator
Presentation 1: Chris Beales

Chris was a member of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Commission on Housing, Church & Community which published the Coming Home report in February 2021. Chris is an Anglican Minister and social entrepreneur who is helping the church to take action based on the conclusions of the report.

Presentation 2: Liam Kelly
Liam is the Chief Executive Officer of Make CIC and was a member of the Liverpool City Region Land Commission launched in September 2020, at the initiative of Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram and facilitated by the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES). The Commission gathered together thirteen experts on democratic land reform, ranging from activists involved in community land trusts, makerspaces and social enterprise incubation to academics and national planning policy reformers. They were invited to “think imaginatively and come back […] with radical recommendations for how we can make the best use of publicly-owned land to make this the fairest and most socially inclusive city region in the country”. Wow! Can’t wait to see how we might use the Liverpool experience to make CLH even greater in the North East.
Book for this session HERE

Wednesday 1 December: 2.00pm – 3.30pm

CLH and the levelling-up agenda
Anyone involved in CLH knows the role it already plays in making places better – but we could do so much more! How can we make sure that CLH is recognised by government, policy makers and programme managers as a key contributor to the levelling-up agenda? We’ll hear a national perspective from the Chief Executive of Local Trust and the local authority view from Durham County Council – a great combination!

Introduction & Chair: Laura Martin, NE Community-Led Development Network Chair & Housing Development Manager at Durham County Council

Presentation 1: Matt Leach
Matt oversees the operations of Local Trust, established in 2012 to deliver Big Local, a £300 million National Lottery funded programme which committed £1m each to 150 neighbourhoods across England. Matt was formerly CEO of HACT, the social housing sector’s ideas and innovation agency. Prior to joining HACT in 2011, Matt’s roles included CEO of civil society funding agency Capacitybuilders, associate director of the ResPublica think tank and a director at the Housing Corporation. He has also led start up work on the London Thames Gateway Development Corporation and held a range of senior roles at DCLG and the Cabinet Office.

Presentation 2: Amy Harhoff
Amy is Corporate Director of Regeneration, Economy and Growth at Durham County Council. Amy leads a multi-discipline regeneration directorate for one of the largest Councils in the UK. Her work focuses on a major programme to deliver over £3bn investment, building capacity, infrastructure and opportunity – including employment, housing and leisure – across the city, towns and rural areas of the county.
Book for this session HERE

Thursday 2 December: 2.00pm – 3.30pm
Decarbonising community-led homes and achieving net zero

Achieving net zero is top of everyone’s agenda – if it isn’t then it should be! There is, of course, a significant challenge in making all homes – existing and new – net zero, but CLH has proved itself to be especially adept at meeting this objective. We’ll hear from practitioners about how this has been achieved in CLH schemes and how CLH can lead the way!

Introduction & Chair: Linda Lacy, Community-led Housing specialist, Northumberland County Council

Presentation 1: Caroline Pringle
Caroline is Managing Director at Bright Green Futures: “In today’s world it is a moral imperative that we build communities where people can truly thrive and live in harmony with the planet. Bright Green Futures exists to make this possible for all people in the world, starting in Bristol!” Building and developing eco self-build communities is their speciality with great examples on the ground and in planning to share.

Their first project was the Courtyard, Bristol’s first purpose-built Co-Housing developmentand the first project to pilot self-build for rented accommodation. Courtyard’s homes are the first in Bristol to be awarded an A-rating for both energy efficiency and environmental impact on their energy certificate. Even more impressively, the development achieved zero carbon without subsidy! Come along and find out how this was done.

Presentation 2: To be confirmed
Book for this session HERE

Friday 3 December: 10.30am – 12.30pm
Face-to-Face Friday – Coffee, Cake and Networking!

Venue: Ushaw College, Woodland Rd, Durham DH7 9RH

How can CLH help solve the housing crisis in your area?
This is the question we will be posing to a panel of CLH experts from the region to wrap up the festival. There will be plenty of time to ask questions of the panel on CLH generally or specific questions which have arisen during the week. We’ll be re-launching the region’s two CLH support hubs – Communities CAN (North East) and Community Homes Tees Valley (CHTV)– and having some good old-fashioned networking over coffee and cake. What’s not to like!

The Panel will be chaired by Pete Duncan and confirmed Panel members are:

• Laura Martin, Durham County Council
• Mike Milen, Redcar & Cleveland Voluntary Development Agency and a key member of CHTV
• Tom Johnston, Communities CAN (North East)

Places are limited to 40 so book early to avoid disappointment!
Book for this session HERE

Any queries regarding the festival can be directed to:
The North East Community-Led Development Network was established in 2011 by a coalition of community organisations, public sector bodies, housing associations and academic institutions, all with a direct interest in community-led housing. It is currently the only regional community-led housing network in the UK.

The Network has over 150 members on its database. It holds network meetings each year organised by a Steering Group of CLH practitioners, local authorities and housing associations.

Anyone interested in joining the Network can contact

The Network and CHTV is generously supported by Power to Change.