Research into the potential of Community Land Trusts published

As the government reviews the responses to its Short-term holiday letting consultation, a new research project is highlighting a potential solution to the rural housing crisis.

Brightness on the Edge of Town is the final report of an original research project carried out by Localis, which aims to set out the place of Community Land Trusts in the current political debate. The RSN was one of a number of organisations called on to give evidence as part of the research.

Community Land Trusts, or CLTs, are emerging in many tourist hotspots as a way of delivering affordable homes and have proved to be a positive answer to building in sensitive areas of natural beauty. Many have been developed in partnership with housing associations.  

These community-led housing solutions offer enhanced community engagement in areas that are becoming increasingly diluted by massive tourist populations, whilst providing a holistic overview and approach to local area planning needs.

However, whilst legislative pathways for CLTs have been established, the technical support in navigating the framework is currently not provided by central government, rather being left to support groups. Furthermore, previous funding for CLTs which was available through the Community Housing Fund has been discontinued, with the lack of a suitable replacement hampering the efforts of communities to come together and provide affordable housing to the benefit of their locality. 

The report says:

“Local authorities can play a fundamental role for CLTs both in getting development started and in supporting their continued success as community initiatives. Advocates for CLTs within councils can help CLT board members as they progress through complex planning stages and interact with various council departments that are often siloed into bodies with varied regulations. The most common way for councils to support CLTs is through the production of a strategy or delivery plan that requires community-led housing to form part of affordable housing delivery obligations, and local authorities can also undergo assessments of and allocate sites suitable for community-led housing within local plans.”

It goes on to say that:

“For central government, there are a number of avenues to further bolstering CLTs and their ability to deliver affordable housing. At the most basic level, a change in the statutory definition of affordable housing so that it reflects local income levels rather than market prices would help to alleviate problems in rural areas of high tourist interest. Increasing the capacity of enabling organisations, such as CLT groups, would also be an effective measure, so long as funding was sustained and long-term rather than through one-off, competitive injections of capital.”

RSN Chief Executive, Kerry Booth, who contributed to roundtable discussions on the issue, said the findings once again show that local people need control over their own areas:

“Much like the recent Institute for Fiscal Studies report, Brightness on the Edge of Town shows local people are best placed to make decisions about their local area.  They shouldn’t be hampered by central government policy but should be supported to bring about positive change for their local community, which so very often has to start with the right houses, in the right place.”


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