More than Housing

CLTs have been approaching us with their thoughts about new activities after their affordable homes have been built and occupied.  We’ve also been busily recording the experiences CLTs have had in their post housing journeys so that we can share this as part of our Building Community Resilience project, funded by the Friends Provident Foundation. CLTs have so far told us that they would like ways to share information and get together more; diversify the board and get more young people involved; explore community owned workspace, renewable energy, and other assets; and refinance their projects using community shares. We’d love to hear from your CLT about new projects and how you see your CLT evolving as time goes by, please contact Alison if you would like to find out more about this work.

Insurance for CLTs

Many CLTs have asked us for guidance on what insurance they require.  The answer is that each group is different, but CLTs are likely to want to consider ‘directors and officers’ cover and ‘public liability’ cover. Directors and officers cover is more useful to CLTs if extended to also cover the entity itself and CLTs should clarify this with their insurer or broker. It should be possible to obtain these covers for approximately £250 pa, but each situation will be different and have different risks – so it is impossible to give an accurate guideline cost here. We have found Brownhill Insurance to be very helpful for CLTs looking for bespoke policies: http://brownhillgroup.co.uk/.  The National CLT Network include directors and officers cover in their full membership package.

Rent Reductions

We have now held discussions with all four of the housing associations who have partnered CLTs in the Wessex region and all are keen to continue working with CLTs. A housing association quoted in Wessex’s recent research attributed the appeal of working with CLTs to: The sense of really delivering something that is wanted and needed by a community, rather than any sense of imposing something or delivering something which divides opinion.”

Cross-subsidy schemes – where little or no grant is involved and market homes help to pay for the affordable ones – will be more popular than before, with HAs able to take on the market sales as well. But schemes of 100% affordable rented homes will also be supported; something of a relief given that, in rural areas, rented housing is in very short supply and average incomes are a fraction of average house prices.

CLT projects in the Wessex area are already adapting to the new funding environment: about 1/3 of the new schemes will be entirely cross-subsidised whereas none of the first projects were. These are some of the most strongly supported housing projects anywhere and we hope that the HCA and District Councils will continue to be as flexible as possible in allocating grant where cross-subsidy is unavailble. At the time of bidding for funding, most schemes also have planning permissions obtained by the CLTs through Community-Led Project Support Grants (now known as Community Buildings Grants.)

Now that the HAs’ business plan reviews are complete, the next step is to discuss the overall timing and funding requirements of new CLT projects with the HCA and District Councils. And those CLTs which have not already selected their HA-partners, will now be doing so.

Wessex Research Findings

The Wessex CLT Project was originally formed to research and promote the role of CLTs and, in that spirit of learning, Wessex has commissioned some research into the nature of local activism.

What motivates people to become involved in CLTs and what are their aspirations? What does this tells us about why these projects are so successful and about the capacity of communities to not only resist decline, but to develop and thrive?

The research was undertaken by Dr Tom Moore of Salford University and these are excerpts from the key findings:

Counter-intuitively, it was sometimes even the neighbours of selected sites who were the most enthusiastic and active members of the CLTs; the very people who might otherwise be cast as ‘NIMBYs’.

CLTs were seen as trusted vehicles for the disposal of land by local landowners.

CLTs address local sensitivities around issues such as aesthetics, environmental impact and eligibility for the homes; gradually refining the ‘fit’ of new homes to the communities which might otherwise oppose them.

Technical support was integral to the success of all schemes.

Volunteers contributed a huge amount of time, energy and expertise to the initial housing scheme – all without any personal financial reward.

The Key Findings are here:
https://www.wessexca.co.uk/sites/default/files/documents/page/Wessex%20CLT%20Project%20leaflet.pdf

Please let us know if you would like a copy of the full report.

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Christow CLT

Briony Falch of Christow CLT whose 18 homes are 6 months from completion. Teignbridge DC provided the land for £1 to CCLT and HCA grant is supporting the 14 rented homes; the other 4 being sold at 80% of market value with a resale covenant. Teign Housing is developing the homes to Passivhaus standards under its lease with CCLT. Dartmoor National Park – the planning authority – has been very supportive of the project.

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The Right to Buy

Under the new Right to Buy regime, it seems that certain groups of housing association tenants can be denied the opportunity to buy the home they rent. Instead, they can be offered an alternative home or even the option to transfer their discount to a market home. Circumstances where such exemptions can be made will include:
  • Properties in rural locations as defined by Section 17 of the Housing Act 1996. This would generally mean properties in National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and places that have been designated as rural by the Government (places with fewer than 3,000 inhabitants per hectare).
  • Properties held in a Community Land Trust.
The first exemption reflects those rural parishes where housing association tenants are already denied the right to acquire their homes, and where the requirement to retain homes as affordable is very often enshrined in Section 106 Agreements on exception sites. This group includes most of the locations in the Wessex area where CLTs have worked with housing association partners; the only exceptions being the ‘urban’ parishes of Lyme Regis, Northam and Bridport.

However, urban parishes – along with all the rural ones – are included in the second exemption – ‘properties held in a CLT’. This is a new category and one that represents a positive outcome to all our campaigning; for the first time, CLT-held homes per se will be recognised as worthy of exemption from the Right to Buy. Quite how this will translate into new regulation remains to be seen although we would like to see a clear definition of ‘properties held in a Community Land Trust’. The National CLT Network has already commissioned and promoted the following definition which, in item (b), incorporates most schemes in the Wessex area: 

‘(a) the landlord is a community land trust or (b) the landlord is not such a community land trust but any superior lease or the freehold is held by a community land trust. In this definition community land trust means a community land trust within the meaning of s.79 of the Housing and Regeneration Act 2008′.
We also aim to ensure that both new regulation and the terms of CLT/HA leases capture the scope for CLT homes to be exempt from the Right to Buy.