Case study – based on an interview with Tony Cook, Chair of the Christow CLT.
Where: Christow, on the edge of Dartmoor National Park
Rural housing issues:
· Older people in unsuitable housing
· Not enough homes for young people and families
The final development:
· 18 PassivHaus homes, 14 of which have been let out to local people at a genuinely affordable rent
People knew there was a housing problem. In fact, it was the relentless campaigning from local resident Briony that spurred a Housing Needs Survey to take place.
The survey, as predicted, found that there was a serious need for additional housing in the village.
Action was needed, and was taken quickly by Teign Housing. Keen to try a new approach called a community land trust and with dreams of developing a pioneering PassivHaus project, Teign got in touch with the local Parish Council to arrange a village meeting.
Locals attended the meeting in force and with open-minds. It was clear, something need to be done and this was an opportunity not to be missed - eight people came forward to form Christow CLT.
“Once the crashing need had been identified the village almost unanimously agreed that ‘our own’ shouldn’t be left to fend for themselves.
“The health of the school, the need for a dynamic and young workforce in the area and simple human decency to allow people to live in the area in which they had been raised – that was what was important to us.”
It was decided that the CLT would work in partnership with Teign Housing to build 18 new homes with an exceptional environmental rating. The PassivHaus dream was going to come true.
For Christow CLT there was the added benefit of working with Teign. Not only did they have expertise to take on a large-scale development but they would listen and wanted to collaborate with the group.
“There was a genuine two-way exchange with Teign. As a group and community, we wanted to work hand in glove with our registered provider, and to their credit, Teign wanted to work in this way too. Community-led housing is not about gloss.”
Community Land Trusts ensure that homes are truly affordable with rents and values based on a rate linked to the average income for the area. This works for future occupiers too. This model also means that additional money is generated through ground rent charges for the CLT to reinvest in the scheme. The community benefits on many levels and for the long-term.
The eight members of Christow who came together to form the CLT did not know each other. In this instance, it was a lucky coincidence that they all had different areas of knowledge.
“A good mix of people is critical to a CLTs success, as well as team spirit, a willingness to listen to others and a genuine desire for transparency when it comes to the wider constituency. Our key goal was to keep our community informed and onside.
“And a Chair that can keep you firmly on track when your conversations go off on a tangent!”
Christow also got lots of advice and guidance from the Wessex Community Project, which acts as a regional centre providing advice and technical knowledge.
“Go in with an open-mind and welcome advice and collaboration whenever possible.”
This award-winning PassivHaus development on a National Park is the only one of its kind in the world.
Although many of the original directors have moved on, new blood has taken their place. The ambition and drive to build and do more is still strong and the CLT continues to invest into the community. They’ve backed and donated money towards a community energy scheme, village hall renovations, school sports equipment and a potential Teign Valley Museum. There are currently researching ideas for a new footpath, woodland burial site and a community boules area.
“This is an active and vibrant community. I’m proud that the CLT continues to play a major role in its development."