Town Planning Review

Can self-build housing improve social sustainability within low-income groups?

Town Planning Review (2019), 90, (2), 167–193.


This paper explores how affordable communal self-build housing affects levels of social cohesion, social capital and participation amongst low-income community members. Thematic analysis of in-depth interviews with members of five low-cost self-build communities in England and Wales elicited that through a shared vision and sustained common sense of purpose, high levels of social capital and participation were evident at the start of the projects, and can continue into later phases. However, without a formal social structure and continued shared visioning within self-build housing communities, social cohesion was found to deteriorate with negative consequences for participation, in some cases showing a lack of social cohesion or leading to conflict.

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Author details

Obremski, Helena

Carter, Claudia