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Land trust to build homes for villagers in Cottenham

The first Community Land Trust (CLT) in South Cambridgeshire has been launched in Cottenham and it aims to build 'truly affordable homes' for villagers.

The trust was set up with a grant from South Cambridgeshire District Council, which has a £50,000 pot for villages to set up such schemes.

“It’s early days and we need to spread the word but already the launch has got some people talking around the village,” said Frank Morris, chair of Cottenham Parish Council and member of the Cottenham CLT Steering Group.

“Cottenham has had several big planning applications approved recently that will bring about 500 houses, which is about a 20 per cent increase to the village.”

He said that while there will be a large number of affordable homes on these developments, they will still be far outside the price range of some people hoping to stay near relatives and friends in the village.

“The idea is to have a different approach to affordable homes.

“Should we be able to, we’ll make some homes available to second or third generation people who might not have been able to afford to live in Cottenham.”

Cottenham CLT is aiming to build 30 homes in the first instance, a realistic target said Frank, taking into consideration the work done by Stretham & Wilburton CLT which, established in 2011, delivered its first homes within five years.

“Hopefully we can do it faster than five years,” said Frank. “You need a landowner who perhaps isn’t as financially motivated.”

The trust has greater ability to gain planning consent in land that is just outside the parish framework, where private landowners would struggle to get planning permission to build.

While there is a chance that the land may become easier to build on in the more distant future as villages slowly grow, some landowners might consider selling their land to the community trust for a return now.

“Some landowners will say it’s time to see if we can help some people get a good place to live,” said Frank.

A number of landowners have already expressed interest in the scheme.

The trust will be officially launched as a charity in the coming months, at which point it will actively start talks with landowners, said Frank.

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