The vibrant market town of Bishops Castle is in high demand as a residential area. Between September 2010 and June 2011, on average 30 bids were received for every social rented property that became available. A group of local volunteers came together in 2007 to deliver a range of assets for the community, particularly housing. The group intend to own the assets and let them out, rather than selling them.
Building confidence in the Trust
The Trust’s first project was the development of two semi-detached properties for rent in the centre of town. The land was purchased from a local architect for £16,000 and the homes are now occupied by local families.
This first project has built local confidence in the Trust. As an Industrial and Provident Society, the Trust has been able to issue shares to the local community, which has increased the sense of local ownership as well as raising money for the project. The CLT has used a range of creative ways to build this local enthusiasm further: for example, “Landfest”, a two day music festival featuring young local musicians has been held for a number of years, raising money for the Trust and promoting the concept of community ownership to a wider audience.
Following the success of their first development, the CLT is now planning a larger project of homes and a workshop for residents of a neighbouring housing scheme. As in their first project, they will be using local supply for the construction; the King’s Head scheme involved 18 local trades in the supply of goods and services, from the locally sourced larch cladding and ash flooring through to labels for the letter boxes.
The CLT has made use of a variety of grants, local fundraising and commercial finance to develop its first scheme. The Trust received capital grants from the Co-operative Fund, Homes and Communities Agency and Shropshire Council. They also raised a significant £22,000 through community fundraising towards the capital costs, securing the balance with a commercial loan from the Ecology Building Society.