The National Housing Taskforce is a cross-sectoral and political coalition convened by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Housing and Planning and the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (Click here). As one of 12 distinct areas of work, the Taskforce has commissioned he National CLT Network to organise an inquiry into how to support and enable ‘new sources of housing supply’, including small builders, self-build, custom build and community-led providers. The inquiry is chaired by Helen Hayes MP, with vice chairs Richard Bacon MP and Baroness Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville. Wessex has provided the following evidence to the inquiry and presented further information to one of the hearings in October.
- CLT/RP partnerships have proved effective over the past 5 years as a major modification of the RP-led approach to rural affordable housing. Whereas rural communities tend to be cast as NIMBYs because they oppose developer-led projects, when mobilised through a CLT they invariably support and promote the supply of new housing.
- The benefits of this are: a much reduced risk of projects being aborted due to local opposition; the restoration of trust between communities and Councils/RPs; an increase in the capacity of rural communities to take on other projects/services; and a steady supply of small-medium-sized projects across innumerable small communities. In a nutshell, this approach supplies possibly the most wanted new housing in the country, sometimes having virtually no opposition.
- The key to this approach is balancing a community’s desire to lead a project with a RP’s willingness to ‘be led’ in its development, financing and operating roles. Underpinning these roles, the CLT becomes the freeholder and the RP the leaseholder. A specialist service such as the Wessex CLT Project provides ongoing support for CLTs, from the initial public meetings through incorporation, governance, site finding, agreeing heads of terms with a landowner, attracting Community Buildings grant, selecting a suitable RP, agreeing the terms of the CLT/HA’s partnership, obtaining planning permission, drafting an allocation plan and completing the project. (See the services offered by Wessex CLT Project at http://wessexca.co.uk/wessex-clt-project/)
- Obstacles include the lack of grant funding for rented housing (by far the most needed tenure in rural communities); the lack of widespread support for these kind of partnerships through services such as WCLTP; the lack of grant funding at appropriate levels to support relatively high-cost schemes in landscape-sensitive locations; and the lack of RPs willing/able to consider this approach.
- If the government could provide one thing to assist such partnerships it would be a supply of grant for community-led rented housing projects at a sufficient level to ensure that the schemes are viable.