Moving on from housing

The majority of the CLTs we work with set up because they want their community to be a vibrant and sustainable place to live in, so they establish themselves in a way that they could take on other assets important to the community too. Wessex has found that as a CLT completed or became quite advanced into their first, housing project, the community members running it begin thinking about what else is needed in the community, and how the energy and practical benefits of the CLT can be harnessed for taking on and developing other assets. An example is Norton sub Hamdon CLT, which took on the community shop once their housing scheme was complete (picture below)

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Wessex Community Assets is now undertaking a 2 year action research project, funded by the Friends Provident Foundation, to find out how best to support CLTs in their next endeavour and how the CLT model can provide real benefits for local communities through continued action. There will be an event on Tuesday 30 June 2015 between 1.00pm and 5.00pm to showcase the different kinds of projects that CLTs become involved in, to provide inspiration and information to any of those looking for the next step on their journey. The event will be held at the Red Brick Building Centre in Glastonbury, itself a CLT​.
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For further information and to register your interest in attending this event please contact Alison. The project is also seeking those interested in being involved in this work from a research perspective, if you would like to be part of the learning network for this project, and help set the questions that the project seeks to answer, please also contact Alison.

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New government, new challenges

Before the election, the National CLT Network published its manifesto. A post-election version is now being produced, setting out​​ measures that are both ambitious and achievable under the new government. As part of this, the Network will be making the case for protecting CLT-led projects from the Right to Buy.

For our part, Wessex​ ​​has assessed the impact of the RtB on each of the projects we support, impacts that would differ depending on whether projects are deemed rural or urban, whether they are subject to S106 Agreements, whether HCA grant has been involved, and so on. Whilst most projects would be protected by a continuation of the current statutory exemption for rural communities – an exemption that has had cross-party political support for many years – non-rural CLTs (such as Lyme Regis CLT and Symene CLT, mentioned above) have been equally determined to meet the aspiration of their communities for affordable local homes.

The Network​ ​​is now​ ​taking specialist legal advice on implications of the legislation for CLTs and will be finalising its campaign shortly; a campaign of which we will no doubt all want to be part.

Recent completions

Symene CLT, West Dorset. In May, Symene CLT and Hastoe held an opening ceremony for their 10 homes. This is one of 9 CLT projects in West Dorset alone, a district becoming renowned for its support for CLTs. Unusually these homes are provided in one community (Bridport) for another (Symondsbury) because there were no sites available in Symondsbury itself. Several of the new residents were previously in poor quality, private rented accommodation and now benefit from 25% lower rents, 75% lower heating costs, security of tenure and even an allotment each thanks to the generosity of the landowners.

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Corry Valley CLT, East Devon. Corry Valley CLT and Yarlington gave Dalwood locals and others an opportunity to view their new homes just before completion. The former landowner and many of the future residents were also present as the finishing touches were applied to the landscaping. This has been an exceptionally challenging scheme in terms of financial viability. Whilst Corry Valley CLT won and maintained the support of the wider community, the HCA and Yarlington proved resourceful and committed in seeing the scheme through financially.

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Upper Frome Valley CLT, West Dorset. Upper Frome Valley CLT and Aster/Synergy completed their scheme of 14 affordable homes on a site that, until late in the day, looked like it wouldn’t be available. Fortunately, agreement was reached with the landowners just in time for a bid to be successfully made to the HCA.

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Not in my back yard?

CLTs consist of people who devote hundreds of hours of their time to bring projects forward. They also stake their local reputations on the quality of the outcome. Never ceasing to be impressed at such commitment, earlier this year Wessex commissioned research into what motivates people to volunteer for CLTs.

The report will be published over the summer but something we’re finding is that the most active members of CLTs can be people who live near to, or overlook, proposed affordable housing sites; sites they helped to select and which provide them no personal gain. Perhaps it is because CLTs now commonly employ their own design teams that some of those who might otherwise find themselves cast as NIMBYs have become so supportive.

The designs emerging from early projects – many of which have been in places such as Areas of Outstanding National Beauty, National Parks or a Conservation Areas – have impressed emerging groups.

Below: strong support for Sixpenny Handley CLT’s proposed site.

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Aspirational Communites: Lyme at last!

Talk of ‘affordable homes for local people’ can rumble on​ ​​in communities ​for years when​ there appear to be no suitable sites,​​ ​t​​​​here are doubts about what might get built, or​ there is outright opposition to development. CLTs succeed by providing leadership, local knowledge, drive, scrutiny, commitment and, ultimately, a vehicle for safeguarding community assets.​ ​​The role of support services like Wessex is to enable these qualities to be channeled as effectively as possible; firstly into housing projec​ts​​ ​​and then into other projects such as a shop (Norton), post office (Toller) and workspace (Chagford).​ ​Our ​role is also to help CLTs defray the development risks they prefer not to take, primarily through the support of Aster, Hastoe, Teign and Yarlington, our housing association partners.

A major recent breakthrough has been​ ​by​ Lyme Regis​ ​CLT where, after over a decade of searching, a site has been secured and planning permission obtained. Pictured below are representatives of the CLT, the Town Council, Yarlington, Wessex and local people in need of housing, all of whom spoke at the planning committee meeting, persuading members to over-turn a recommendation for refusal (on landscape grounds)​.​

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Flourishing CLTs

Established by Wessex Community Assets and Carnegie UK in April 2010, the Wessex CLT Project now supports more than 20 Community Land Trusts across Somerset, Devon and Dorset (see map below). Over the past 5 years:

  • 4 CLT schemes have been completed
  • 7 are on site
  • 3 have planning consent
  • 2 have applications pending, and
  • 6 more are in their formative stages.

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More than 100 affordable homes will have been built by the end of this year, all on CLT-owned sites and generating small but steady incomes for the communities themselves. By the end of 2017, we expect that a further 100 homes to have been built on the same basis. Almost all will be partnerships between CLTs (as project leaders and freeholders) and housing associations (as developers and leaseholders).

The latest to have received a planning consent (on June 3rd 2015, subject to S106 Agreement) is Cheriton Bishop CLT’s scheme of 8 homes with Teign Housing. Members of the steering group are shown on site below.

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