Coodes Partner and Head of Rural Services Pam Johns explains why a Community Land Trust can be the best way to secure the housing and amenities that rural communities need.
“The Community Land Trust movement has really gathered pace since I first became involved ten years ago. As a Trustee of the National Community Land Trust Network, I’m helping to shape the national direction of the movement and to raise awareness of the opportunities it can offer. Locally, I’m the Chair and Company Secretary and a founding Trustee of the Holsworthy Community Property Trust and also helped establish one in Bradworthy. In my professional life, I have offered legal advice to a number of Community Land Trusts.
“A Community Land Trust is a charity or community interest company. The not-for-profit element is key – all funds get invested back into the community. Community Land Trusts are often associated with developing affordable housing for local people and that is certainly a key part of what they deliver, but Community Land Trusts have also helped to secure a future for valuable amenities such as community centres and pubs.
“Although there are a number of Community Land Trusts in urban locations, delivering affordable housing in London for example, there are obvious synergies with rural areas, particularly villages where house prices are high and wages are low. The movement is really strong in the South West and there are many Trusts in Cornwall and Devon, but there is still a lack of awareness and I hope as more people become aware of them, more communities will benefit from Community Land Trusts.
“From a legal perspective, it’s important for the Trustees of a Community Land Trust, who are volunteers, to get expert advice on a whole raft of things. These range from setting up a Community Interest Company, to options with landowners, buying land, selling the developed properties to local people in housing need and developing joint venture agreements with housing associations and contractors. The most difficult and time-consuming area is undoubtedly securing a section 106 planning agreement, which can hold up proceedings for years!
“Being involved with Community Land Trusts in my various capacities has given me valuable insights. It has also maintained my belief in the benefits Community Land Trusts can bring to communities.”