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£50,000 scheme helps South Cambridgeshire communities become developers

By Ben Comber

Community led housing in Stretham
Community led housing in Stretham

Villagers say it lets them take their future back into their own hands.

Communities are being given the chance to bid for a share of a £50,000 grant pot that could help them deliver affordable housing in their area.

The new initiative by South Cambridgeshire District Council and Cambridge City Council will see groups step forward to help deliver housing schemes on land identified by the community, help make sure designs are right for the local area and meet the needs of people in need of affordable housing.

The council run scheme to deliver community-led housing is the first of its kind in South Cambridgeshire or Cambridge and puts the future of meeting the needs of an area in the hands of the people who live there.

Cllr Lynda Harford, South Cambridgeshire District Council’s cabinet member for housing, said: “What better way of meeting some of the housing needs of local people than the village taking up the baton themselves?

“This is building from the ground up and making sure the ideas come from the grass roots of a community. We already have interest in community-led housing and these grants will give groups the chance to turn their initial ideas into a reality.

“Anyone trying to buy or rent locally will be acutely aware that there is a pressing need for more high quality and genuinely affordable homes as younger generations of families who have deep roots in our villagers are being priced out.”

The scheme will allow groups to bid for up to £4,500 to scope a project in their area and set up as a group who can take it forward.

The project has been possible after the two councils were awarded funding from the Department for Communities and Local Government’s Community Housing Fund.

The project is being run in conjunction with CLT East who have helped deliver community-led housing in East Cambridgeshire.

The grants from Government are aimed at helping to boost the number of affordable homes delivered by community-led housing groups.

The grants available can be used to pursue any model of community-led development for the provision of affordable housing, including Community Land Trusts, Cohousing and groups who want to self-build.

Before applying for funding groups can also have free help and advice from a CLT East technical adviser, who will complete a report of findings and recommendations for the group.

Cottenham Parish Council are already looking at a scheme in their village and plan to bid for funding to get it up and running.

Frank Morris, chair of Cottenham Parish Council and member of the newly formed Cottenham CLT Steering Group, said: “Community-led development is really important for us in Cottenham. We have put a lot of time and effort into our Neighbourhood Planning and now we want to make sure that the wants and needs of the people living in our village are met, especially as Cottenham expands with new housing developments.

“We know that the high cost of housing is driving out young families, key workers and older people who may have lived or worked in Cottenham their whole lives. By forming a Community Land Trust and embarking on our own community-led housing project we can provide genuinely affordable, high-quality housing, which we can reserve for local people and we can protect it from the Right to Buy.

“We are taking the future of our village back into our hands and making sure that we have a vibrant and sustainable community for years to come.”


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