Gareth Thomas fights to defend and promote co-op housing

Party Chair Gareth Thomas works to ensure the government's Housing Bill gives equal treatment to co-operatives

Dianne Jahangani


Whilst Co-operative Parliamentarians continue to fight to save Community Energy this week also saw Gareth Thomas MP, the Party’s Chair, work to persuade the Government of the need for improvements to the Government’s controversial Housing and Planning Bill, amendments which would greatly help co-operative Housing.

Housing Co-operatives aim to provide homes to families, couples, and single people in need at affordable rents. Community-led housing is another type of housing designed and managed by local people. These schemes are run by local communities for local communities, and they are built where local people choose and to the standard which they require.

During the Committee Stage of the Bill, Gareth Thomas proposed that Co-operative and Community-led housing shouldn’t be disadvantaged from accessing good plots of land for creating housing Co-operatives. For the first time, Gareth gave a legal definition of community –led housing put into primary legislation.

“Community-led housing or housing co-operatives not only have the advantage of providing housing for individuals and their families; they also encourage people who benefit from such building to take some responsibility for their community, for the rules under which it operates and for the conditions and the environment in which they live”.

Further he believed that:

Co-operative and community-led housing organisations—which organise the building of homes and recruit people to become founder members or move into those homes—might be excluded by the very tight drafting that civil servants have been instructed to prepare…”. 

Disappointingly the Government failed to support this amendment and the need for a new definition of community led housing. Whilst not successful it did elicit many ‘on the record’ statements of support for the sector. The Co-operative Party continues to champion co-operative housing and will be bringing back the Co-operative Housing Tenure Bill this session.