2018 has been a fantastic year for community led housing

Thursday 20 December 2018

I can't be the only person in the CLT movement feeling overwhelmed by 2018. What a year!

I only started to work for the network two years ago, having followed its ork for many years previous. But 2016 feels a world away, as our movement really starts to take off. You've all had a really busy year.

We've had 61 new CLTs come through our Start Up Fund, such a rush of demand that the fund is now fully allocated and closed to applications. Many more have started with the help of their Enabling Hubs, so the number of CLTs is now well over 300. CLTs like Knaresborough in Yorkshire and London CLT secured new sites. Lots of you got planning permissions, like RUSS for its 33 homes in Lewisham, Yorspace with 19 homes in York and Bridport cohousing CLT now with permission for 53 homes in Dorset.

Some lucky CLTs got building, among them Thrift for Soham CLT in Cambridgeshire, Appledore CLT in Devon and Homebaked CLT in Liverpool. Lyme Regis CLT was among those completing homes; they found themselves oversubscribed three times over. New Enabling Hubs have also got started in Birmingham and Manchester, and in the new year we'll be launching a new fund to help grow the coverage across England.

This has come from a government grant to us in partnership with UK Cohousing, the Confederation of Cooperative Housing and Locality. This has been a huge amount of work, but we're really excited about the fruit it should bear in the next couple of years.

The team and I love to hear your stories, so we were pleased as punch to meet up with over 100 of you at our 4 member events and AGM. You shared your thoughts on our future direction, and told us you wanted more help persuading your councils. So in the new year we'll launch a new local advocacy campaign.

We get around the country as much as possible, with a small team and meagre travel budget. Catherine and I spoke at 60 events in every region of England and Wales, including a Parliamantary committee, a party conference and briefings to 40 officials in Homes England and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. We reached over 740 people through a series of events organised by the ACRE network, and welcomed a further 160 people to a great series of 'See It and Believe It' events ably hosted by CLT East, Keswick CLT and the Liverpool groups.

I even snuck in a cycle ride to visit a few CLTs in Somerset while on holiday in the summer.

A lot of our effort this year has gone into lobbying on your behalf. We finally got the Community Housing Fund launched in July and September, and hope you are all getting your bids in. The signs are promising that it will be extended past 2020, but we need you to write to your MP pressing the case - please do so if you haven't already. I've been lobbying the Welsh Government to launch their own version of the Community Housing Fund, a job I don't mind one bit when I get a Cadwalladers ice cream out of it.

Sadly I didn't get any treats in my meetings on leasehold reform, but we do seem to have persuaded the Government that CLTs have good, ethical reasons for building leasehold houses and charging ground rents. We'll stay on this one into the new year.

Behind all of this is the unceasing work of our wonderful team. We had an away day in October, and what stuck with me was their real commitment to the cause. Rosie, Kennedy, Polly, Sam, Rachel and Beth have all been infected with a passion for community led housing - infected by you. Much of this came from Catherine's leadership, who sent us on our way in the summer and gave birth to her boy Leo in July.

he team is off over Christmas for a well deserved break, and will be back on the 3rd January. I'd like to wish you a merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year. For prosper in 2019 we shall!

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