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Are Community Land Trusts the answer to city's housing crisis?

By Sarah Coates

There are more than 225 CLTs in England and Wales
There are more than 225 CLTs in England and Wales

For a number of years the rising cost of buying or privately renting a home in Cambridge has rendered it impossible for most.

Sarah Coates of Penningtons Manches
Sarah Coates of Penningtons Manches

As Cambridge continues to expand and house prices continue to soar, might Community Land Trusts (CLTs) be the answer to the housing crisis (or a part of the solution, at least!)?

CLTs are a form of community-led housing which is owned and managed by its residents. They are run by ordinary people to manage a variety of things, from affordable homes to the local pub or recreational facilities.

The aim is to ensure that homes are genuinely affordable in direct relation to what people are earning in the area, the idea being that the total annual housing cost will be no more than one-third of the average household income.

There are currently more than 225 CLTs in England and Wales, with projects already up and running in and around Cambridgeshire, including Cambridge itself, Swaffham Prior and Royston.

Whilst CLTs are not in themselves a legal entity (such as a company), they are defined in law and therefore must meet certain criteria: they must be set up to benefit a defined community, they must be a not-for-private-profit entity with all surplus being used to benefit the community and there must be the opportunity for people living and working in the area to join as members.

A CLT gives residents the ability to manage their own community and establish what the area needs for itself by taking into account the opinions of those who know the area best – the people who live there!

The scheme incorporates the wider community and encourages people to talk about the needs, designs and plans for the local area. This in itself means that schemes are more likely to be accepted as far as possible by the residents of an area than development proposals from ‘outsiders’.

Ultimately, the land remains in the possession of the CLT, which continues to be the long-term steward of the homes and assets, allowing the members a sense of responsibility and control over the future of their community.

CLTs do of course still have the same challenges as other developers, not least securing sites and planning permission, but the opportunities they present must not be discounted. For further information on this or any other property-related matters, please contact Sarah Coates on 01223 465428 or email sarah.coates@penningtons.co.uk.


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