Wessex Community Assets, a social enterprise specialising in community ownership hosts the Wessex Community Land Trust Project (WCLTP). Covering mainly rural communities in Somerset, Devon and Dorset, it promotes and supports a partnership approach to the development of community land trusts.
- The approach is deliberately low-risk. Although each CLT finds the land, agrees the number of homes, designs the scheme, advocates it the wider community, agrees the allocation criteria and acquires the feehold, the responsibility for developing, financing and managing the scheme lies with a housing association partner
- The CLT has an option to buy the housing association out of its 125 year lease in the future, assuming it can raise the funding
- WCLTP’s role is to help the CLT with set up, identifying a suitable site, negotiating with the landowner, tendering and appointing professional advisers, attracting revenue grant, drafting the allocation criteria, matching the CLT to an appropriate housing association partner, and overall project management
- The role also includes providing business planning, legal framework and governance advice and training for CLTs. The umbrella’s costs are recouped from the housing association partner if the scheme goes ahead – most do
- Aster Group is one of four housing associations currently working with WCLTP on community land trust development. The others are Hastoe, Yarlington, Teign Housing and Alliance. Although all of them follow the partnership model, each has a slightly different approach
- Aster manages 27,000 homes across central southern and south west England, employing 1500 staff and holding assets of over £1 billion
“As part of Aster’s commitment to building stronger communities we have been working in partnership with a number of community land trusts across the region to deliver affordable housing for local people. Within our development team we employ a project manager with specific responsibility for community-led development. Aster is committed to continue supporting Community Land Trusts, particularly in the more rural parts of the region where small scale, community-led development can often be the key to meeting local needs." Amanda Williams, Development Director, Aster Homes
Aster’s support for community housing is expressed here (requires login):
- The partnership model seems to work very well. The partner housing associations have collaboration agreements with WCLTP which and despite the many problems facing associations at present, they will continue to support CLT development through this approach. Although it is not an income generator – most schemes only just about break-even - it is often the only way of providing affordable housing in rural communities and establishes a vehicle that is then ready to take on other assets if needed
More information about the partnership approach to community land trusts in Wessex can be found here.
Published in March 2018