Community Land Trusts key to rural housing revival

New report pitches the partnership potential between housing associations and local land trusts.


Community Land Trust are the key to a rural housing revival if housing associations are open to partnerships, a new report says.

A ‘Village Survival Guide’ released by the Prince’s Countryside Fund acknowledges that for all the benefits in rural building, associations can’t be expected to know or understand the needs of every village.

“Which is where Community Land Trusts come in – identifying needs and driving awareness,” the report says.

The Prince’s Countryside Fund is a charity founded by HRH The Prince of Wales to help the British countryside to flourish.

Its Village Survival Guide features more than 40 local groups across the UK, as well as from experts and organisations such as ACRE, the Plunkett Foundation, and Pub is the Hub.

The Guide’s approach to partnership follows that of an All-Party Parliamentary Group report last year that pitched associations partnering with Community Land Trusts and other rural housing initiatives, such as local community-led housing projects.

Earlier this year, the CLA said the supply of new affordable homes across the countryside has remained static as councils “continue to ignore” the potential of such sites – seen as a key means of providing affordable homes in rural areas.

The Village Survival Guide references examples of collaboration between communities and housing associations on successful schemes.

These include:

  • Mark, Somerset

A mixed development of 12 affordable homes that arose out of assessments by the Mark Community Land Trust set up in 2015 to identify area need and an appropriate site.

The idea was taken to the South Western Housing Society (SWHS) and, with funding from Homes England and Sedgemoor District Council, constriction was completed in in September last year.

Homes for rent were available to applicants that could confirm a close connection to the village.

  • Isles of Scilly

A 10-year project by the Cornwall Rural Housing Association (CRHA) launched after talks with communities across the three Isles of Scilly and built to a strategy agreed with the Duchy of Cornwall and the Council of the Isles of Scilly.

The six three-bedroom houses and single two-bedroom bungalow were the first social housing built on Scilly’s off-islands of Bryher, St Agnes and St Martin’s.

  • Ulva Ferry, Isle of Mull

A housing project started by Ulva School Community Association and backed by Mull & Iona Community Trust led to the building of two houses next to the school.

Down to four pupils the school was in danger of shutting – the result of long-term population decline due to a lack of affordable housing.

Contributory funding was secured from the Scottish Land Fund and Argyll and Bute Council.

Last year, MHCLG was urged to prioritise preserving what remains of rural social housing.

A report from an All-Party Parliamentary Group called for continuing support for the making of Neighbourhood Plans and maximum use of the Community Housing Fund for community-led village projects – including the undertaking of local needs assessments by parish councils.

This, the report said, could be complemented by measures to preserve the remaining social housing in rural areas such as discretion for the local council to withhold RtB sales and an exemption from RtB for housing association tenants in those areas where replacement development is highly constrained.

As with the Village Survival Guide, associations were seen as partnering with Community Land Trusts and other rural housing initiatives, such as local community-led housing projects.

In January this year, 24housing reported the Country Landowners Association (CLA) calling on government to introduce permitted development rights for affordable homes on Rural Exception Sites.

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