What is the Community Land Trust Scheme?
08 June 2023
By Jeremy Greer
In the quest to address the housing crisis and promote local ownership, a ground-breaking initiative known as the Community Land Trust scheme is gaining traction.
The Community Land Trust (CLT) aims to provide affordable housing options exclusively for local residents, while empowering communities to take control of their own housing destiny. So, what is the essence of the CLT scheme and what will be its impact on fostering sustainable communities and affordable homeownership.
The power of Community Land Trusts
Community Land Trusts are non-profit organizations that work in partnership with local authorities and communities to develop and manage affordable housing projects. Unlike traditional housing models driven by market forces, CLTs put the power back into the hands of local residents. Through active participation and decision-making, communities can shape the development process, including planning, design, and pricing.
The CLT movement originally began in the United States in the late 1960s – a spin-off from the civil rights movement. In 2010 the Community Land Trust Network (then called the National CLT Network) was established in the UK to support the aims CLTs and advocate on their behalf. There are now over 500 CLTs and the use of CLTs has started to spread to all parts of England and Wales. The Community Land Trust Network launched as an independent charity in June 2014.
Affordable housing for locals
One of the key features of CLT schemes is their focus on providing housing exclusively for local residents. The prices and rents of these homes are determined based on the income levels of the community members, ensuring affordability and accessibility. By aligning housing costs with local earnings, CLTs aim to counteract the trend of skyrocketing property prices that often force residents out of their own communities. This approach enables individuals and families who would otherwise be priced out of the market, to achieve the dream of homeownership or secure, affordable rentals.
Community involvement and decision-making
CLTs prioritise community involvement throughout the entire process. Local residents have a say in crucial aspects such as planning, design, and the setting of sale prices. This collaborative approach ensures that the housing developments meet the specific needs and aspirations of the community. By actively engaging in decision-making, residents feel a sense of ownership and pride in their homes and neighbourhoods.
Preserving affordability and long-term benefits
To safeguard the affordability of CLT properties and prevent them from being sold on the open market at inflated prices, an "asset lock" mechanism is put in place. This means that the homes can only be sold under the same terms on which they were bought, ensuring that they remain affordable for future generations. By preserving affordability, CLT schemes contribute to the long-term stability of communities, preventing displacement and fostering social cohesion.
Expanding the Reach of CLTs
The success of CLTs in providing affordable housing or community buildings has garnered support from various stakeholders, including local authorities, community organizations, and the Government.
Efforts are underway to expand the reach of CLTs across the country, with new projects being developed in different areas from Dinnington in South Yorkshire to Lewisham in London. The growth of the CLT movement brings hope for more communities to benefit from affordable homes to buy or rent and community-driven development.
Challenges and Future Outlook
Though CLTs offer promising solutions to the housing crisis, some challenges remain. Finding suitable land for development and addressing funding constraints are the main ongoing hurdles faced by the scheme.
However, the growing political support and public recognition of the benefits of CLTs have proved to be successful. By overcoming these challenges, CLTs can become an integral part of the housing mix, providing sustainable, affordable housing options for communities across the country.
Community Land Trust schemes present an innovative approach to address the current housing crisis and promote local ownership. By prioritising affordability, community involvement and long-term benefits, CLTs offer a viable solution for individuals and families who may have been priced out of the traditional housing market.
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