The Right to Buy

Although statutory protection from the Right to Buy will no longer apply to small rural villages, it is now clear that there will be no new legislation to over-ride the legal barriers that are locally in place. In our view, such local legal barriers will effectively protect Wessex-supported CLT/HA schemes from the Right to Buy:
  1. All Wessex-supported CLT/HA schemes are developed on exception sites and, as such, are subject to Section 106 Agreements which require homes to be kept affordable in perpetuity, thus preventing sales through the Right to Buy. Such Agreements can only be varied with the consent of all parties, one of which is the CLT (as landowner).
  2. The Wessex CLT Project has commissioned legal advice on a second legal barrier: a new clause for CLT/HA leases to prevent tenants of partnership schemes being offered the RtB their homes (without the consent of both the CLT and HA). We have commissioned one of the leading legal firms in the affordable housing sector – Trowers and Hamlins – to draft this clause to ensure that it doesn’t compromise the ability of our HA partners to secure development funding on CLT schemes.
In recognition of the legal barriers set out above, we understand that, under certain circumstances, housing associations will be be able to offer tenants an alternative home under the Right to Buy to the one they are living in. Such circumstances were set out in an agreement between housing associations and the government in September [our italics]:
  • “Properties held in a Community Land Trust.”
  • “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).”
All Wessex-supported schemes are covered by one or more of these circumstances.

Hastoe’s review of working with CLTs

In November, Hastoe Housing Group held a review of its work with Queen Camel, Marshwood, Upper Culm, Symene and BSUP&C CLTs; an event that included representatives from all five CLTs, Hastoe staff and board members, several local authorities, Devon Communities Together, solicitors and Wessex CLTP. The purpose of the event was for Hastoe to learn first-hand about what had gone well with these first projects and where improvements could be made. [Photo: Hastoe Group]


National CLT Network Conference

If any CLTs are interested in bursaries to attend ‘Housing: It’s In Our Hands’, the National CLT Conference 2016, there are some available on a first come, first serve basis. To receive your free place please email the National CLT network at with the subject line ‘CLT FREE PLACE‘ and include the name of your Trust and whether you are an urban or rural CLT.

The Network can offer one delegate place per CLT and will send you a promotional code to use when booking. Please note that, in order to have as many CLTs at the conference as possible, Network members who have already won a free place through completing a data survey will not be able to take part. The Network has also asked that you don’t partake if you have already booked your place. They will issue a refund if you are one of the first 10 to email.


Development Funding

Further to the Comprehensive Spending Review in November, government funding for rented housing is set to decline over the next few years to a significantly lower level than in then past. In high value areas such as Dorset, Devon and Somerset, home-ownership – even with the sort of discounts now being promoted by the government – will continue to be unavailable to people on low incomes, either because it is simply unaffordable or because banks deem such mortgage-lending to be too risky. Strong demand for rented homes is therefore expected to continue; especially in rural communities where many such homes are in very short supply, many having been lost under the original Right to Buy.

We are working with CLTs and housing association partners to apply for funding for schemes in the current pipeline (see red stars below), several of which have planning permission and all of which either have terms agreed with landowners, a site in the CLT’s ownership or an option agreement in place. Alongside the National CLT Network, we will also continue to lobby for a small proportion of what grant funding remains for rented housing to be ear-marked for community-led affordable housing.

In the meantime, Community Buildings grants to enable CLT to undertake feasibility studies have now been awarded to four Wessex-supported projects and one, Appledore CLT, has reached the next stage of applying for a further grant to progress its planning application.

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The first programme of Wessex-supported schemes (2011-15) is almost complete – see photo above and purple pushpins. These have all been built on exception sites and, in the main, have replenished rural communities with much needed homes for rent. The red stars show the second programme of schemes (2015-18); about a third of which will be cross-subsidised from open market housing and the rest subject to bids to the Homes and Communities Agency and District Councils. A third programme of schemes (2016-20) is also emerging.

‘Starter Homes on Rural Exception Sites’

The Government is currently consulting on whether to allow the construction of ‘Starter Homes’ on ‘Rural Exception Sites’ – see link below, items 45-47.

‘Starter Homes’ means a property sold at 80% of market value to first time buyers under 40 years of age and at not more than £250,000 outside London. It is proposed that Starter Homes can be sold or rented at full market value after five years and that, normally, buyers need have no local connection to the area where they are built.

‘Rural Exception Site’, on the other hand, means land not normally available for residential development but where homes can be built to meet a proven local need and where they are affordable in perpetuity. The construction of ‘Starter Homes on Rural Exception Sites’ is therefore something of a misnomer in that land adjacent to villages that is not allocated in a Local Plan, or identified by the community to meet local needs, could be developed commercially for homes that will sell or be rented to anyone at market value after 5 years.

If any Wessex-supported CLTs have views on this, please let us know. We will be responding to the Government’s consultation by Monday 25th January. 

‘What Next?’ – the Friends Provident Project

Many CLTs and community groups have been expressing an interest in learning more about how to deliver community owned workspace in their community. We will be running a free seminar looking at this topic on the afternoon of Wednesday 20 January 2016 at the Red Brick Building in Glastonbury, please do contact Alison for more information on this and to book. More generally, if you would like to discuss what help might be available for your CLT in taking on new assets in the community please do get in touch with Alison.

Recognition for CLTs from an unexpected source

Community Land Trusts have received recognition from the art world recently as architects Assemble were awarded the Turner Prize for their work in collaboration with Granby Four Streets CLT in Liverpool.

The Turner Prize judges praised Assemble’s “ground-up approach to regeneration, city planning and development in opposition to corporate gentrification”.


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:  The National CLT Network include directors and officers cover in their full membership package.