NCLTN turns 10 - our Chair's reflections

Thursday 03 September 2020

Blog authored by National CLT Network Chair Cathy Bakewell, Baroness Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville MBE

A tenth birthday is a remarkable achievement for any organisation but especially for a smaller-sized charity.  We were founded ten years ago on the concept that decent affordable housing is the right of every citizen. Priced-out young people and families are struggling to flourish without a secure home and older people deserve the resources to continue living in their communities with lifelong friends and family.

Communities up and down the country have responded to this need and hence the community land trust approach was repurposed from its American roots for a UK context. The National CLT Network was formed from a desire for a single organisation to foster the movement’s development and advocate on its behalf at a national level. In 2010 there were 30 CLTs in England and Wales, today there are over 300. The strength of the movement has allowed for nearly 1,000 individuals and families have moved into their completed homes, and homes for thousands more are in the pipeline.

Our strengths have been in supporting over 200 projects through the Start Up Fund which have gone on to develop 367 homes with another 3,000 waiting in the wings; the growth of the enabler hub network; policy wins with the exemption from the 1% rent cut, the Community Housing Fund, exemptions from the leasehold reforms; and the birth of Community Led Homes. Much of these successes can be attributed to Catherine Harrington, the Network’s Chief Executive for its first 8 years and driving force, as well as Tom Chance, who joined her as a Co-CE in 2018.

I am extremely proud of the way in which we lobbied to secure and then held accountable the government’s Community Housing Fund. This meant that many of you were able to take advantage of this money, resulting in new homes being planned and built. 

This dedicated work has all come down to partnership.  Working in partnership with local people, parish councils, housing associations, District and Unitary Councils, landowners and, of course, those in need of accommodation. This all takes time. As those who have been involved in community led housing projects will have experienced, moments inevitably arise when you feel like giving up the struggle, but when you have continued, your communities have reaped the rewards.

The other great strength of the organisation lies in its dedicated and talented staff.  Throughout the lockdown, they have continued to work from home, have held many Zoom meetings attracting groups from up and down the country and have continued to provide advice and support.  Like all voluntary and charitable organisations, their shape changes over time to meet demand.  

Our tenth anniversary is a significant milestone, and our past work has placed us in a strong position to continue to grow the movement over the next ten years, with the help of local CLTs and their communities.  I feel privileged to be the Chair of such a vibrant organisation.

To give just a few examples of groups’ tenacity leading to success:

  • Keswick Community Housing Trust partnered with its local diocese and was an early adopter of the community share model. Their volunteer-led group, through intense dedication, are now on their fourth project with a mixture of rent-free shared ownership and rental tenures.

  • Granby Four Streets helped raise public awareness of CLTs through their award-winning scheme which was a splendid example of a community taking matters into their own hands, something which will chime with many CLTs.

  • London CLT led the way in the urban CLT movement in England and Wales, pioneering the discount market sale approach, providing affordable housing within sight of Canary Wharf and through their Citizens UK links, are building similar schemes across London.

  • Appledore is in a beautiful part of the world, which has made it a target for second home-owners, running at 40%  of local homes.  Even so, the community formed Appledore CLT with limited land available, taking on a very steep piece of land and partnering with a housing association leading to affordable housing for the community.

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