Community Led Housing: The Wessex CLT Project
In 2010 WCA was commissioned by Carnegie UK Trust to carry out action research into the establishment of a CLT support project in Somerset and Dorset.
In 2011 the CLT Project was funded by Devon County Council to include Devon within its remit. This became the Wessex CLT Project which now provides comprehensive support to CLTs at various stages of development throughout the three counties – see map on projects page. The Wessex CLT Project is now financially self-sustaining.
The Wessex CLT Project provides end-to-end technical advice to community led housing projects. Wessex-supported CLTs have led the development of over 100 homes across Somerset, Devon and Dorset with over 250 more in the pipeline; almost all built by the CLTs’ housing association partners on community-owned land.
In 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 CLTs supported by WCLTP received Devon Rural Housing Awards: Christow, Corry Valley, Appledore, Upton Pyne, Bradworthy, Chagford, Upper Culm and Cheriton Bishop. In 2015, Toller Porcorum CLT was awarded Volunteer Group of the Year in Dorset and, in 2018, Liz Maunder of Norton sub Hamdon CLT and Lyme Regis CLT won the National CLT Network’s ‘Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop’ and ‘People Powered Homes’ awards respectively.
The BBC has featured three projects supported by the Wessex CLT Project – Christow, Toller Porcorum and Lyme Regis – together with the North Devon village of Croyde which, like many coastal communities, is planning to set up its own CLT. See the clips on this page.
Our track record
- CLTs incorporated: 41
- Housing schemes completed: 16
- Housing schemes in progress: 32
- Homes completed and in progress: c.500
- Income to communities from projects completed or in progress (index linked): c. £17m over 125 years
- Asset value of homes completed or in progress (at cost): c. £100m
- 6 consecutive years of Devon Rural Housing Partnership awards plus, in 2018, 2 inaugural National CLT Network awards
- Regular coverage on the BBC, in the regional press, and in community housing sector publications
- The engagement of 17 local authorities and 9 housing associations in supporting CLTs
Detailed below is the range of services provided by WCLTP to CLTs working in partnership with a Housing Association.
Social Enterprise Development Support for Community Housing Groups
Providing information on, and examples of, possible models for community housing projects and facilitating contact with other community housing groups.
Facilitating the community housing group’s vision for the project, considering an appropriate model of community housing, exploring the implications for capital and revenue funding etc.
Legal formats and documentation
Considering of appropriate legal entities such as a Community Interest Company, Community Benefit Society, Company Limited by Guarantee (with exempt charity status) etc. Help will be provided to draft the objectives of, and to incorporate, the new organisation.
Supporting the community group in its communications with the wider community as and when required, including as many public meetings as necessary.
Organising training sessions in response to the community group’s emerging needs. These include sessions on a) accounting, b) governance, and c) allocations. Arranging peer-learning visits to other communities.
Researching ways of improving the social and financial return to community groups and advising on the implications of emerging initiatives such as the Government’s Community Housing Fund.
Working with others in the Community Housing sector to maximise resources and policy support for community-led projects, including relationships with MPs, civil servants and special advisers.
Affordable Housing Support for Community Housing Groups
Site identification and land acquisition
Advising on the site selection process and on the heads of terms between the community group and the landowner. Advising on the content and structure of a public meeting designed to win the support of the wider community for a recommended site. Recommending solicitors based on our experience of other projects. Providing template forms of option agreement and lease as necessary.
Supporting the community group in deciding the number, type, tenure and design principles of the proposed housing and to play a full part in promulgation of the planning application. Facilitating discussions between the community, HA (if involved) and LA about the wording of the Section 106 agreement (where applicable) and ensuring that the community’s preferences are incorporated as fully as possible.
Ensuring that the party taking the development risk understands the implications should any such risks materialise. Advising on the tendering and commission of professional advisers: architects, surveys, engineers and so on.
Administering project team meetings; drafting agendas, chairing and taking minutes as required until the community group feels confident enough to take these on. Maintaining an up to date project plan which forecasts when all elements of a project will take place.
Problem Solving – Helping to keep the project on track by problem solving as and when snags arise; ranging from the withdrawal of grant for rented housing (e.g. in the CSR November 2015) to occasional reductions in the capacity of volunteers.
Access to Funds
Advising community-led housing groups regarding possible sources of funding at each stage of the project; assisting with drafting funding bids and developing supporting documentation.
Communicating the availability of the Community Housing Fund to community groups.