FORWARD-thinking villagers shared the ways they are planning to meet future housing needs at a showcase event.

Residents of Levens, near Kendal, and Ulpha in the Duddon Valley, told more than 50 delegates about their plans. The well-attended gathering was hosted by charity ACTion for Communities in Cumbria, and the Community Led Housing Hub for Cumbria and Lancashire.

Levens Parish Council's clerk, Martin Curry, spoke about the long-running project to deliver a new village hall and and two building plots for market sale, to "cross-subsidise" much-needed new affordable homes.

In Ulpha, the Joseph and Eleanor Gunson Almshouses Trust is using community-led homes funding to modernise bathrooms on existing properties and to keep eight small, affordable properties available for local tenants.

“Community led schemes are often smaller than market-led schemes and more work is done to ensure they meet locally identified need,” said Fran Richardson, Community Led Housing Hub manager.

"With residents doing a lot of the legwork to gather interest and support, the development that comes forward from communities suffers fewer local objections and really fits local needs, now and into the future. Community schemes are also protected for the benefit of the community longer term, from right to buy, for example.”

Funding from the Community Homes Fund has been made available through local authorities. The creation of the Cumbria and Lancashire housing hub is designed to ensuring that any community considering a project can access expert pre-planning advice, design homes, buy land and refurbish existing properties with support and expertise available at every stage.

“With both the funding and the housing hub available, it is a brilliant time for communities to explore what they need and to test the viability of sites and possible solutions,” said Fran.

"Housing that people can afford to live in is vital to sustaining our communities, particularly in rural areas where the market can be limited. I’m keen to encourage anyone who would like to have a conversation about housing in their community to get in touch - the hub has been created to help you explore solutions that are right for your place.”

The Community Led Housing Hub for Cumbria and Lancaster is hosted by the charity ACTion with Communities in Cumbria. To find out more, see