Rural Housing Week runs from 11th to 16th July and aims to raise awareness of the affordable housing issues facing rural communities. Coodes Partner and Head of Rural Services Pam Johns says that Community Land Trusts could help address some of the challenges.
“Communities in the South West have been particularly hard hit by cuts to grants for affordable housing. Unfortunately it is usually just not economically viable for a business to invest in a small scale development in a rural location. For those of us with rural housing close to our hearts, the news that funds would be raised for affordable housing through a new 3% stamp duty from second homes gave a glimmer of hope. Sadly, the second home market has taken a hit and as a result the amount of revenue to be allocated to affordable housing developments will in fact be far lower than expected.
“This is a worry for rural communities, like north west Devon where I live and work. However, despite the challenges, I think the Community Land Trust movement is on the cusp of being taken forward on a much bigger scale and, as one of the most active areas, the South West could play a key role in helping communities create the housing they need.
“As a Trustee of the National Community Land Trust Network, I’m helping to shape the national direction of the movement. On a local level, I’m the Chair and Company Secretary and a founding Trustee of the Holsworthy Community Property Trust, which created 15 units and I helped Bradworthy establish its own Community Land Trust, which has provided 10 rental houses that are now occupied. Additionally, I have offered legal advice to a number of Community Land Trusts and my hands-on experience is invaluable in giving me an in-depth understanding of the processes that groups need to go through to set up as a Community Land Trust and get a project off the ground.
“So, what is a Community Land Trust? Basically, it is a charity or not-for-profit community interest company that delivers facilities for the community. Community Land Trusts are often associated with developing affordable housing for local people but they are also about building sustainable communities, including facilities like the village pub or shop. I am helping the Holsworthy Community Property Trust take on the building and running of the youth centre, which provides a much-needed space for young people. Bradworthy Community Land Trust, meanwhile, is aiming to create a woodland for the village.
“The National Community Land Trust Network has done a great deal to raise awareness of Community Land Trusts in Government. There is, however, a lot of work that needs to be done at a regional and local level. Those of us who are passionate about the role that Community Land Trusts can play in creating sustainable communities will continue to work hard to raise awareness and support local projects. I hope that events like Rural Housing Week will also make more people consider Community Land Trusts as a viable option in these difficult times.”
For legal advice on a Community Land Trust, contact Pam Johns, Head of Rural Services at Coodes on 01409 255906 or email@example.com