About CLTs

Community Land Trusts (CLTs) are a form of community-led housing, set up and run by ordinary people to develop and manage homes as well as other assets important to that community, like community enterprises, food growing or workspaces. CLTs act as long-term stewards of housing, ensuring that it remains genuinely affordable, based on what people actually earn in their area, not just for now but for every future occupier.

There are now over 225 Community Land Trusts in England and Wales, and the sector has grown six-fold in the last six years. The largest Community Land Trusts have over 1000 members each. Community Land Trusts have developed over 700 permanently affordable homes to date and will have developed a further 3000 homes by 2020. 

Watch our animation that explains what a CLT is:

CLTs are one form of community-led housing, and the National CLT Network is part of a broad alliance of organisations promoting this approach. Schemes that are genuinely community-led all share common principles:

1. The community is integrally involved throughout the process in key decisions like what is provided, where, and for who. They don’t necessarily have to initiate the conversation, or build homes themselves.

2. There is a presumption that the community group will take a long term formal role in the ownership, stewardship or management of the homes.

3. The benefits of the scheme to the local area and/or specified community group are clearly defined and legally protected in perpetuity.


People set up and join CLTs in particular for all sorts of different reasons.  

It might be that there is a lack of affordable homes for young people or families in the village or neighbourhood, where local people are having to move out of the place they call home, and communities want to do something about it. 

Or it might be that the area has suffered years of decline and disinvestment, leaving empty properties and blight, and the community want to bring homes back into use and turn their neighbourhood around. 

Or it might be that the community is doing a Neighbourhood Plan and they want to take charge about how that Plan is then delivered. 

In all these cases, the community wants to make their area a better place to live, and they want more control over how that happens.

As the Homebaked CLT steering group say: ‘We don’t want to sit back and accept things being done to us. We say stop, say no, and change the situation for the better.’

CLTs are not a legal form in themselves (like a Company). However, CLTs are defined in law so there are certain things that a CLT must be and do:

  • A CLT must be set up to benefit a defined community;
  • A CLT must be not-for-private-profit.  This means that thay can, and should, make a surplus as a community business, but that surplus must be used to benefit the community;
  • Local people living and working in the community must have the opportunity to join the CLT as members;
  • Those members control the CLT (usually through a board being elected from the membership).

CLTs have to take on a legal form that works for them. See the 'resources'  section for more information.