Scroll across to see our 10 stages

  • 1: Thinking
  • 2: Getting organised
  • 3: Site Finding
  • 4: Getting advice
  • 5: Outline Business Plan
  • 6: Full Business Plan
  • 7: Buying Land
  • 8: Development
  • 9: Construction
  • 10: Management

If you feel there is a lack of affordable housing in your area and want to do something about it, here is a simple step-by-step guide to the main steps required to deliver affordable homes in your community. Links to more detailed information and assistance, including grant-aid, are provided along the way.

There are several types of community housing scheme and different ways of delivering the project, so the guide is a general indication of the key stages only, and may vary according to particular requirements or circumstances. Throughout the process, you should establish and maintain close relationships with your Rural Housing Enabler, district council, local parish, town and city councils.

Most of the local authorities in this area have the services of a Rural Housing Enabler (RHE) or a Community Support Worker – these liaise with local communities and provide support and advice for groups wishing to develop community housing. Your RHE should be an early contact if you are considering a project. You will find further details of where you can get help in Project Funding or speaking to your council, detail of which you can find in Contacts. Funding may be available from your local council to help you get your project started. You will find further details of where you can get help in Project Funding or speaking to your council, detail of which you can find in Contacts.

The key stages of work to deliver a housing scheme are outlined below;

Process Diagram

STAGE 1: Thinking

A project will usually start because the community or local Parish,Town Council feel that there is a need. New low-cost homes may be needed for people with jobs in local businesses who can’t afford to live in the area. It may be important to bring more people in to support local facilities such as shops, buses and schools. Your local Council will be keen to hear from you and may have grant funding available from the Community Housing Fund to help you to get started.

See this useful guide for local Parish Councils produced by the Rural Housing Alliance:

You will need to start thinking about the need for housing in the area, the type of housing needed, how you would be organised and if there are any potential sites that could be developed. You can contact your council’s Rural Housing Enabler or local housing officer for further information about what is involved.

Community First Yorkshire

Community First Yorkshire provide practical support and rural advocacy to voluntary and community organisations, parish councils and social enterprises through our networks, projects, and services. Their aim is to help you achieve your goals and better support our communities.

Furthermore, Community First Yorkshire have recently developed and published a useful document called A Planners Guide to Communing Led Housing.

For your local Community Led Housing Advisor can be found here:


STAGE 2: Getting Organised

You could form an interest group by talking to local people/neighbours to get people involved or talk to your local Parish/Town Council to see if there are any community groups operating in your area that might be interested.

The National Community Land Trust Network provide useful guidance on how to set up

Assistance is available from your local council, the two Rural Community Councils or the Adviser Panel to help you to establish your group. The Rural Community Councils for this area are Community First Yorkshire that is in North Yorkshire and Humber and Wolds Rural Action that also works in East Riding.

You need to explain why it is important to have new homes by setting up a meeting locally. You will need to find out what people think about new houses being built and explain why this is important by completing a Housing Needs Assessment.

You can also find useful information from ACRE (Action with Communities in Rural England) which is the national body for 38 charitable local development agencies that make up the ACRE Network. ACRE produces a guide on completing Housing Needs Assessments which can be found here.

Locality, a charitable body has produced a guide on housing needs assessment to help communities develop Neighbourhood Plans which you can also use as a guide for a community led housing project. You can find out more here.

Guidance and example of housing needs surveys produced by Devon Communities Together and the Development Trusts Association Scotland can be found below:

Devon Communities Together
Development Trusts Association Scotland

You may get help by talking to your local Rural Housing Enabler, someone who is employed by the Council to help groups get projects started or your local housing officer at the Council.


Once you have enough people interested in your group, it needs to be a legally recognised body before it can make any commitments or draw down any funding. There may already be a community organisation locally that can be expanded and be responsible for the project. If so, you need to know if the existing constitution is acceptable (does housing fall within its existing remit?). If not, it may be necessary for the constitution to be amended. If you are forming a new group, you need to agree the type of body you wish to become and what you aim to do.

Some of the questions you need to think about are:

  • Who will the homes be for?
  • How many homes are needed?
  • What type and size of homes are needed?
  • Are the homes going to be rented or sold?
  • Are you going to build new houses or convert existing buildings?
  • How is the scheme going to be funded?
  • Are you going to manage the project yourselves?
  • Are you going to manage the homes yourselves?

The homes may be for a group wanting to develop cheaper affordable homes for themselves. This may involve managing the scheme or even helping to build the houses. You may want to provide affordable homes for local people who can’t afford homes in the area because of high prices or because they are in lower paid work.

The number and type of homes will be dependent on the result of your housing needs survey and may be limited by the sites or land available.

You may be able to fund your scheme through grants, loans or a mixture of both.  Generally, you may need to become a charity to qualify for grant funding. You also might think about linking with a Housing Association or even become one so that you can access Affordable Housing Grant through Homes England.

Your group will need to be legally formed before you can apply for a mortgage or loan. There are many potential funding sources to help you form a group including possible grants from your Council and Charitable bodies.

Project Funding

You can get help getting organised from the Adviser Panel, your Rural Housing Enabler or from one of the Rural Community Councils.

Adviser Panel

STAGE 3: Site Finding

This may be obvious and seeing an underused site or building may even have prompted you to think about the project. It is worth bearing in mind that land which may not be earmarked for housing might be considered if it meets local need for ‘affordable’ housing for local people. Sometimes Councils provide lists of land that they have available and the Government also provides lists of public land available for development here.

You can also find land for sale which is suitable for housing at the Self Build Portal.

The Yorkshire Dales National Park has published a list of sites where new homes could be built, these can be found here.

Before making enquiries about a site or building you need to be able to describe it. The most accurate way of doing this is by marking what you think is the boundary on an Ordnance Survey Plan.

Getting an Ordnance Survey Plan

There are many things you will need to consider when looking at a site;

Is it likely to get planning permission?

You can find out more in Planning and Design.

Help may be available to you to get a quick indication about this from the Rural Housing Enabler or Local Authority Housing Officer. They may be able to get an informal view from within the Council to see if it is worth pursuing further.

Do you know who owns the site?

You can find details of ownership of land from the Land Registry.

Will the landowner allow the site to be used?

Even if it is suitable for housing, the landowner may have other ideas and you would need to approach them to see if they are open to the idea.

Is the land technically suitable for building?

There may be reasons that the land may be unsuitable or more difficult to develop. It could be that things done in the past have made the land unstable or contaminated. For example, the land may have been used for tipping in the past or used for ‘dirty’ uses such as chemical storage or breaking vehicles. These issues may not mean that the land cannot be developed but it may make it more difficult or expensive so needs careful consideration and may need expert help to look at this. You will often find local people that know about the past history of land; you can also find information through the Land Registry or from your local Council.

Is there a risk of the land flooding?

This could mean that the site should not be built on at all or if it is going to be possible there may be extra costs dealing with this. This can be checked at on

If the boundary is alongside an existing road, you may be able to build an access onto the road if the Council agrees. You may need to find out if the road is a public highway as sometimes roads can be private, and you may need permission to use it or you may even need to buy it or pay for a right of way.

Is the land near a bend in the road or another access point?

Another thing to consider is that even if your proposed site can be accessed from the main road, if it is near a bend or near another access point the Council will need to be convinced that the access will be safe.

STAGE 4: Getting Advice

This is the point where you may need to consider getting expert help with your project. Some groups may feel comfortable about delivering a project and may have already done so. However, managing a development project is no easy task but this burden need not fall wholly on your community group or organisation. The important thing is that the development should be ‘led’ by the community which means having a say about how the housing is developed and who the housing is for.

If the group has members with sufficient technical expertise and who can give time freely, the group may need less support but projects can be complex and at some point, you will need specialist help. Most groups will not possess all of the required technical knowledge needed, although there may be people within the group who, because of their experience can help.

This support can come from suitably qualified advisers which you may pay for using grant funding they will help you to develop your project and/or manage construction. There is grant funding available to help fund the cost of advice you need. Funders for the project will have an interest in how the project is to be managed and may require you to show a level of expertise that will ensure that the project runs smoothly. The members of the Advisor Panel will be able to help you with this.

Project Funding

The advice you need may vary depending on the type of scheme.

Affordable Housing

Housing for affordable rent. In areas of need, communities developing housing for local people paying affordable rent. The housing remains affordable in perpetuity through the charitable remit of the group and restrictions on sale.

Housing for affordable sale or shared ownership. In areas of need, communities developing housing for local people paying a reduced price. The housing remains affordable in perpetuity through controls on future sale.

You could enter into a partnership with a Housing Association that would build the homes, find tenants from the community and/or manage the properties. These are ‘not for profit organisations that are subject to regulation by Homes England. The advantage would be that a Housing Association may be able to gain access to grant funds that your group may not (unless the group becomes a Housing Association in its own right) and the Housing Association would remove many of the risks from the project and reduce the amount of input required from members of the group. You would need to agree with the Housing Association your involvement with the project and the level of control you would have over the housing developed.

Housing Associations

It is possible that you could get support from a builder or developer that appoints their own advisors to manage the process along the way with the group paying for the housing when it is finished. This is often referred to as ‘design and build’. Sometimes this can be useful as the builders may be able to make savings, for example they can work with the designer to use materials they can get cheaper. Bear in mind though that someone will need to make sure that the builders are doing their job properly and you will have more control if you employ your own separate advisors to oversee and manage the development and appoint a builder with their help.

If you do not wish to commission a builder directly or involve a Housing Association you will need to manage the project yourself. Some groups want a greater level of control and therefore want to build the houses themselves but will still need technical support.

A panel of advisers is available to help you. If you have an adviser in mind already but they are not on the Advisers Panel, then they may wish to consider joining the panel to make sure that the funders are happy to pay towards the cost. Many of them can provide project management services alongside their other specialism or you could appoint a dedicated project manager that can help you to commission these services and manage the work of the consultants on your behalf.

There are different ways in which projects can be managed depending on the type and size of project. The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) sets out the stages of a building project and the services an architect can provide. This is split into seven stages and can be found on the RIBA website. An architect may call on other advisors where necessary.

You may want to have one adviser such as an architect who will work with other advisers such as a quantity surveyor or planner as part of their service. An alternative is that you have a technical co-ordinator who will help you with the early work, especially developing your business plan, commissioning the Architect and other advisors and overseeing their work.

More information can be found from the Adviser Panel.

STAGE 5: Outline Business Plan

Once you have decided what you want to do and have found a potential site you will need to prepare an Outline Business Plan.  This will consider the building cost and possible income from rental or sales and will support any applications for funding or lending and will require technical information about the site and project. The National Community Land Trust Network has some information on this in it’s toolkit. The toolkit is free for members or you can buy a copy here.

You can also get help from the Adviser Panel to help with this stage of the work. Your local council may be able to help with grant funding at this stage.

Questions you might ask are

Are there any legal restrictions on how the land can be used?

At this stage, you will need to look a bit deeper to check for any restrictions that may affect how the site is developed and which may affect the cost or may even mean that the site is not suitable at all.Local people may be aware of any complications but you should check title deeds and plans which can be obtained from the Land Registry.

You should always seek help from a legal adviser who will help you to understand the implications of any restrictions and if these can be removed or changed. Restrictions are often put on land when it is sold so that the seller can control what is done for various reasons or so that they get a share in any increase in value. Sometimes these restrictions are very old and the person putting these restrictions on the land may no longer be around.

Not all legal restrictions will be on title deeds as some are placed on land by the local Council such as rights of way, building preservation orders, tree protection orders and protection of plants and animals. There may also be restrictions placed on the nearby roads by the Council’s Highways Department which may affect any access into the land.

Many of these matters are considered when you submit a planning application, but you need to understand them before you get to that point as you may find that they stop you developing the site or make it too costly.

Further guidance on planning can be found here.

Are there any technical issues that affect the site?

Some sites have drains, pipes or cables running through them which may need to be diverted and you may have to pay for these to be changed. You will of course need water, drains, electricity and telephone wiring nearby so that you can connect your site and there may be a cost for you to do this which you will need to allow for in your Outline Business Plan. If they are too far away, the costs may be too high for the project. You will need to contact utility companies to make sure that the local system can cope with more houses.  If you are going to use a site which already has buildings on it you will need to work out the rough cost of demolishing or refurbishing the buildings. If the buildings are ‘listed’, (Listed as being of Architectural or Historical Interest) or if they are in a Conservation Area, this may be more difficult and you may need specialist advice.

How many houses will there be?

You will need to make a plan of how the houses will be laid out to find out how many can be built on the site allowing for all the information you have found so far. If you are converting buildings, you need to show how the homes will fit into the buildings.

How much will it cost to build?

From the plan an estimate can be made about how much it will cost to build the houses or carry out any conversion and this can then be put into the Outline Business Plan.

How much will the houses earn from rent?

The rent charged can be estimated based on the size of your houses, the number of bedrooms and rental charged for similar properties in the area. This figure is known as the ‘market rent’. For affordable housing, the rent is lower. Where houses are being sold as affordable this will be the sale price after any discount is agreed.

How much will it cost to manage the housing?

Where houses are rented they will need to be managed which means carrying out repairs, servicing heating and cooking equipment, any gardening that you will need to do, the cost of finding and letting the houses out to tenants and collecting the rent. You will also need to make allowances in your Outline Business Plan for any times between tenants leaving and finding new tenants. You will also need to allow for legal costs in preparing tenancy agreements and dealing with any problems with tenants.

How much funding will be needed?

By this point you will have an estimate of the cost of building and the income from the housing as well as any ongoing costs to manage them. From this, it is possible to work out the amount that needs to be raised to carry out the project. The amount you can borrow will be based on the income from rents or the final value.  If the rents will be lower than ‘market rents’ you may not be able to borrow enough and you will need a grant to make up the difference. These calculations will need to be shown in your Outline Business Plan which you can use to make applications for any loans and grants you need. If the total project cost compared to the rents you can charge is too high, the grant needed may be too much, and you will need to reconsider your approach, look at a different site or both.

The information produced in your Outline Business Plan will show to funders that the project is worth pursuing to the next stage. This stage will cost much more so you will need to apply for further grants or loans to develop a Full Business Plan.

Stage 6: Full Business Plan

Once the estimates show that the project is likely to be viable then you need to write a Full Business Plan which will get you to the point where you can apply for any loans or grants for the works, buy the land and find a builder to build the houses.

To do this you will need to look more closely at the things that you discovered when writing your Outline Business Plan.

You can get help from the Adviser Panel for this stage of the work.  Your local council may be able to help with grant funding at this stage.

You will need to follow up any issues that you found to work out the cost of;

  • removing restrictions and applying for rights of way to be moved,
  • any works that need to be done to the surrounding roads
  • any special works to deal with any possible flooding
  • connecting to utilities such as water, power cables and drainage pipes

You need to talk to your local Council about changes to roads and rights of way.

There is a Government guidance note available that explains about utility companies.

To find out more information about utilities visit the following sites;

Northern Power Grid
Northern Gas Networks
Yorkshire Water

Once you have a layout, you will need details of what the houses will look like and what size they will be, the types of building materials used.

You can now start to work out approximately how much it will cost to build the houses and this can be used for your Full Business Plan.  You will also be able to update your estimates of the rent you can charge based on the sizes of the homes and update the costs for managing them.  You will also have to decide how you will let the properties and how you will decide who can rent them with advice from your local council. When you apply for grants you may have to agree to keep the rent affordable.  These restrictions may affect the amount that you can borrow and so would also have to be agreed with your lender.

You will need to know the value of the houses when they are finished. The value of the land is usually the difference between what the houses cost to build and what they will be worth when finished.  When houses are being sold on the open market, this value can be quite high.  However, when you are providing affordable housing this will normally be worth less  because the rental income will be lower. Often this means that the amount left to pay for the land is small or it may even cost more to build than they will be worth when finished.   For affordable homes, there may be grants available to make up this difference.

Sometimes the Council will only give planning permission on the land because you are developing it for affordable housing.  This will be an exception to the rules and without it the land will only be valued for its existing use such as agriculture or gardens.  Grant funders will sometimes allow you to pay slightly more than this to make it worthwhile to the owner of the land and persuade them to sell.

The Community Land Trusts Network produces a financial appraisal tool for this and supporting guidance.

Homes England also has a toolkit that can be used to work out these values, but you will need to know how this works and you therefore may need an Adviser to help.

STAGE 7: Buying Land

You can get help from the Adviser Panel for this stage of the work.  Your local council may be able to help with grant funding at this stage.

Before spending money on further plans or applying for planning permission, the land needs to be bought or legally reserved. You may be able to agree to buy the land subject to getting planning permission and funding so that you can reserve it but back out if something goes wrong.

The price you pay should be no more than a registered valuer decides it is worth.  A bank may insist on using their own valuer unless you they agree that they will accept the figures from your appointed valuer.

If the value of the land is more than £125,000, you will need to pay stamp duty on the price you pay for the land and you need to allow for this in your Full Business Plan. These figures can change if the Government changes them in the budget, but you can find out more about Stamp Duty Land Tax here.

You will need a legal adviser to help you with buying the land and to carry out any checks needed.  You can get help with this from the Adviser Panel.

Once you have bought the land you will be responsible for it so you need to take out Public Liability insurance. This is to protect you from any claims made by others. Ideally you will take over the land and then pass it to the builder on the same day so that you can ask the builder to be responsible until you take over the completed houses.

If there are existing buildings that you are converting or other buildings that have value, you will also want to take out insurance against them being damaged.

STAGE: 8 Development

The first stage will be to apply for Planning Permission. This is where the Council will decide on if they will allow your houses to be built and what conditions they will place on your project. Without this your project can not continue.

You can get help from the Adviser Panel for this stage of the work.  Your local council may be able to help with grant funding at this stage.

What do we need for Planning permission?

You will need to show in your application exactly where the land is, so you will need a location plan using an ordnance survey map. You will need the plans you made for the layout and the house sizes and show what they will look like. You will also need drawings to show how the outside space, parking areas and access to the road will be built.  More information on Planning can be found here. More information about planning can be found here.

Once you have your Planning Permission you will need technical drawings showing how your houses will be built and apply for Building Regulations approval. These regulations are different to Planning Permission as you need to show how the houses are constructed and that they are safe and built to Government standards. The plans need much more technical information  about how they will be built and they type of materials used. You will also need to appoint a ‘Principal Designer’ which is a legal requirement to make sure that all works are planned safely.

You can get help with this from the Adviser Panel.

You may also need permission from the energy and water companies if you are digging up the road where cables and pipes are laid.

How will I find a builder?

You might want to ask a Housing Association to build the houses for you, which they may be prepared to do even if you do not want them to manage them when finished but they will of course charge for this.

Housing Associations

You may find builders that have worked with other groups in your area by contacting Trade Bodies who should be able to help such as the Federation of Master Builders.

You will use your technical drawings to send to builders for prices for building the houses. You will normally ask a few builders to give you quotations for the work so that you can get the best price. You will also need to think about the quality of the work, so you might ask for information about previous houses they have built and get references from their customers.

You will need to tell the builder what you expect and set this out in a contract. You will normally pay in instalments and hold some of the money back until the end from each instalment just in case something goes wrong. If there is a problem with your builder and you need to bring in a new builder to complete the work or fix anything you may be able to use this money if it is found that it is the builder’s fault.

When the houses are finished, there are often small things that you will want the builder to put right any faults that may crop up afterwards and you would normally hold onto some of the final payment for a short while so that these can be put right.

If you have included any planting in your design, you would normally make a separate arrangement with the builder to maintain them for a couple of years after the houses are finished as any faults with these won’t be found until after they have had time to grow. If you don’t ask the builder to maintain them, then it would be difficult to prove that this was the builder’s fault. You can also take out insurance in case the builder stops trading before your houses are finished and for any faults that you may find after they are finished. The NHBC is one organisation that provides these guarantees.

STAGE 9: Construction

Before you agree for the builder to start you will need to think about when the builder will need to be paid and when you will be able to have your loan and/or grant funding in place so that you can pay the bills. You will also need to set aside a small amount extra for things that you didn’t expect such as the builder finds that there is a problem with the land, unusual weather that holds things up or if the design changes because something unexpected happens.

Once the builder starts on site they will take over the land, but you will still need to make sure that the builder takes good care of it and does not cause any problems with nearby residents. You will need to keep in touch with your neighbours and make sure your builder deals with any problems. This might be things like blocking local roads with vans, lorries causing problems when delivering materials or mud on local roads when digging.

You will also need to make sure that the builder is getting the work done in the time you agreed and that they work is being done to a high standard. The earlier you spot any problems, the easier they will be to sort out. You will need to make sure that your builder keeps the site safe and everything is locked up.

You have a legal duty to make sure you comply with Health and Safety Regulations.  This includes appointing a ‘Principal Contractor’ that will be responsible for this.

You can get help from the Adviser Panel for this stage of the work.

STAGE 10: Management

Before they are finished you will need to find someone to rent or buy the houses. You will need to do this in good time but not so early that your potential tenants find something else. You also need to talk to your builder to make sure the works will be completed on time in case your houses are not finished in time for your tenants or owners to move in.

You should plan for around three months as a minimum to sign up your tenants before your houses are finished and longer if the houses are being sold.

You will need to arrange to collect the rent and any deposits from the tenants, arrange for any repairs and maintenance and arrange for new tenants if the old ones move out. You will need to make allowances in your figures for times between tenants and make sure they are locked up and the water and power are turned off.

You may have some areas that are used by all the tenants such as corridors and stairs in flats and parking areas and bin stores outside. You will have to arrange for these to be cleaned and repaired and pay for any electricity. You may want to charge the tenants a fair share of this separately or include it in the rent. If your tenants claim benefits for the rent, then this may not be covered by their benefits.

You will need to arrange for safety checks each year for the heating and hot water systems which is a legal requirement. You will also need to take out insurance for any damage to the property and in case one of your tenants or someone going onto the property gets injured and you are responsible.

You could ask a property manager to deal with all of this for you or you could ask a Housing Association to manage it.  You can find out more about Housing Associations here.

You should aim to make a small surplus that you should set aside for large things that will need replacing or repairing in the future such as a new roof or replacing boilers.  If you make any ‘profit’ you will need to think about what you want to do with this.


General Principles

In almost all cases, planning permission will be needed for your community housing project.  Other approvals may also be required depending on the type of scheme, for example if it involves works to a Listed Building, special Listed Building Consent will be required or if the site contains protected trees that are subject to a Tree Preservation Order you will need special permission to do any work that might affect them.  There are also special rules and permissions needed if your site is in a Conservation Area.  These approvals should be considered at an early stage in the development of your scheme.

When you have found a possible site or an existing building for conversion, you need to look into its planning status and suitability for housing development.  Your local Rural Housing Enabler or housing officer based in your local Council, will be able to help with this.  It is important that you approach them first as the Council’s Planning Department usually charges for pre-application advice which you may be able to avoid by asking your RHE to discuss this on your behalf.  If you  subsequently make any enquiries yourself at the Council’s Planning Department you must make it clear that you are a community housing group or becoming established as one. The RHE may also be able to help in finding a possible site.  You can find more information about your Rural Housing Enabler in the contacts section.

Your local Council deals with Planning, apart from areas within the Yorkshire Dales or North York Moors National Parks, in which case the planning authority is the National Park Authority.

Your local Council publishes information about the suitability of areas for different types of uses. Your local Council or the National Parks Authority should have a Local Plan covering their area or be working to agree one.  Local Plans cover a wide range of topics, and usually identify land suitable for new development of all types, including housing, as well as showing areas to be protected from development.  Check the status of your site in the Local Plan documents; it may be earmarked for housing, another use such as employment or agriculture, protected from development completely, or it may in some cases not have an allocation.

Planning policies often restrict development to protect attractive and valued landscapes, the character of historic rural villages, and other heritage assets.  This must be balanced with the need to take account of local circumstances and the council must plan housing development taking into account local needs, particularly for affordable housing. This means that in certain circumstances and where a clear need is identified exceptions can be made and planning permission may be granted for affordable housing in locations where planning applications would normally be refused.

Councils can include policies for affordable housing development and Rural Exception sites in their Local Plans or other policy documents.  Check the policy for your area with your local Council or talk to your Rural Housing Enabler to get more information.

Some communities in the area are preparing Neighbourhood Plans that deal with local issues and needs.  You will probably have heard if there is a Neighbourhood Plan being prepared by a local group for your area and you should check to see if your proposed housing site might be affected by any policies or proposals being considered in the Neighbourhood Plan.  Before a plan can be developed a Neighbourhood Area has to be agreed with the Council.  One of the benefits of having a Neighbourhood Area agreed is that if you find a suitable site you may be able to build houses under the ‘Community Right to Build’. Neighbourhood planning gives communities direct power to develop a shared vision for their neighbourhood and shape the development and growth of their local area.

Information on Neighbourhood Planning is issued by the Government here.

Information and grant funding to develop a Neighbourhood Plan is also be available from Locality, a National Charitable body.

Fine Details

If you think that the Council might consider that they will allow houses to be built on your site, then you need to think about other more detailed things that the Council will consider before giving permission, including;

  • Access

Is there existing safe access to your site for vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians? If not, can access be reasonable provided by new works?

  • Site Features

Are there any features that would impact on your development such as flooding issues, contaminated land or protected trees? Or would your scheme unduly affect your neighbours?

  • Heritage

Is your site located in a Conservation Area? If so, particular care must be taken when designing new development so that your scheme will preserve and enhance the character of the area. Would your development impact on the setting of a nearby Listed Building or designated site of other special interest such as archaeological interest? Information will be available from your Council’s heritage and environment officers. Historic England is the National Body that provides information on Heritage matters.

Applying for Planning Permission

Your scheme should be developed in close co-operation with your Rural Housing Enabler that will help you to talk with the Council departments such as Highways to see what needs to be considered.  When you are ready to apply, you will need to pay a fee to the Council. Decisions should be made within 8-week timescale but can sometimes take longer.  If approved, there may be conditions attached to cover things that the Council would like to be done which were not included in your application

Information on planning, highways/access, conservation, heritage and more is available from your local Council.


At some stages of your project you may need more technical help to help you with developing your scheme. You can find help here.

Planning Guidance
The National Planning Policy Framework sets out the Government’s Policies and how they expect that they will be applied by local Councils.

The Planning Portal is a National ‘one-stop shop’ for Planning.


National guides

The Government publishes information on design and quality and standards and space standards.

A useful guide to space standards is published by the Royal Institute for British Architects.

The Design Council provides guidance for Councillors on Urban Design.

A comprehensive guide to Urban Design originally published by English Partnerships and Homes England is available in the Government National Archives.

Local Guides

Your local Council has information about what they look for when considering designs for housing. You can also find information in your local Neighbourhood Plan or Village Design Statement where your community has produced one.

East Riding of Yorkshire Council

Design Policies are contained in the East Riding Local Plan Strategy Document (page 122).

Scarborough Borough Council

Scarborough provide guidance in the Scarborough Borough Local Plan (page 40).

York City Council

Design information can be found in the York Interim Planning Statement on Sustainable design and construction.

Richmondshire District Council

A Policy on Design is included in the Richmondshire Local Plan Core Strategy (page 92).

Ryedale District Council

A Residential Rural Design Guide is available from Ryedale District Council.

Hambleton District Council

An Interim Policy Guidance Note is published by Hambleton District Council.

Craven District Council

Design Guidance for Affordable Housing Providers is published by Craven District Council.

National Parks

Special Planning rules apply to the National Parks so that they can be protected.  The rules mainly are to make sure that new buildings fit in with the surroundings and so if you put forward good designs there is much more chance that they will be accepted.

North Yorkshire Moors National Park Authority
A Design Guide is published for developments in the North Yorkshire Moors National Park.

Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority
A Design Guide is published for developments in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

Design Principles

When designing new places, it is important to understand the ‘setting’ of a place. If your area has a Village or Neighbourhood Design Statement, this will help in understanding what makes your place special and unique as well as showing important sites or views that show the character of the area.   This information can often give us clues about how new development could take place.  For instance, many villages began with each building sitting within its own plot, often around a village green where people could graze animals.  As the village expanded, new buildings were built in similar plots ideal for individual families. Sometimes these long narrow plot boundaries can still be seen.  Often these plots were joined up to create short rows of cottages that you see in many villages.

Homes England provides a useful report on Housing Layout and Neighbourhood Quality.

Energy Efficient Design

Homes should be well insulated and if possible has the main windows facing south to benefit from solar heating and smaller windows such as bathroom windows should be North facing.  South facing roofs are also useful so that solar panels can be fitted to lower heating bills.  If possible, the houses should be laid out with this in mind although it may not always be possible if houses are being fitted in between other rows of houses and where houses laid out in this way may overlook neighbours.

Guides to green design are provided by many local Councils.

Scarborough Borough Council provides guidance for developers on Sustainable Building.

Harrogate Borough Council has a Guidance Note on Sustainable Construction and Design.

Hambleton District Council has a Supplementary Planning Document on Sustainable Development.

There is also a useful Sustainable Housing Design Guide provided by Cambridge city Council which may also help but may differ slightly to local situations.

Historic Environment

The historic environment can provide inspiration for new forms of development that complement existing places.  If a building is Listed or within a Conservation Area, this does not mean that a site cannot be developed, or a building cannot be converted to a new use. However, it does mean that buildings are legally protected and in the case of Listed Buildings, any changes either inside or outside will need special permission.  It may mean that you would not get permission to demolish a building, but often such buildings provide excellent conversions and still have space for new extensions.

Housing Associations

You may prefer to develop your scheme in partnership with a Housing Association.

Housing Associations, sometimes referred to as ‘Registered Providers’ or ‘Registered Social Landlords’, are non-profit-making organisations which provide homes for rent or local cost ownership which are considered ‘affordable’. Most Housing Associations are registered with Homes England and must follow standards and procedures set out by this regulatory body.

Housing Associations can work with community groups in various ways.

  • They are able to offer professional advice on how to develop housing schemes and some offer grant assistance for community groups. The majority of Housing Associations are signed up as Investment Partners and Registered Providers with Homes England which is the Government’s housing, land and regeneration agency. This means that these Associations are able to access grants and could build housing in partnership with community groups
  • The majority of Housing Associations are signed up as Investment Partners and Registered Providers with Homes England which is the Government’s housing, land and regeneration agency. This means that these Associations are able to access grants and could build housing in partnership with community groups.
  • Housing Associations can manage the construction of houses for community groups and then hand them over for the Constituted group to own and manage themselves.  They can also manage housing schemes on behalf of community groups who own the housing but do not want to have a housing management role.
  • They can provide communities with a ‘design and build’ service,  providing a complete construction and management service working in partnership with community groups to advise on how the properties are rented or sold.

The following services may be available from the Housing Associations listed below.

High-level technical advice at the project development/feasibility stage


Download full details below;

Housing Associations List.xlsx

Housing Associations List.pdf