When Worth CPT formed in 2005, the parish was experiencing nearly 50% second home ownership, with many private sector houses in the village selling for over half a million pounds, putting them well out of reach for many local people. Local facilities, including the craft centre, post office, shop and tea shop, had shut down. A Registered Provider of social housing had pulled out of development of a local site because of the extensive archaeology required there. This was the site that Worth CPT took on.
The Trust has provided 5 homes for affordable rent, which were completed on 23rd March 2012. These are the first affordable homes built in the parish for 20 years. Worth CPT partnered with local Housing Association, Synergy Housing Group, giving the Trust access to the expertise it needed to complete the build and meet Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) funding requirements. Synergy now manage and maintain the homes on behalf of the Trust.
Worth Archaeology Project
By partnering with East Dorset Antiquarian Society, the Trust brought in over 5000 hours of volunteer dig time to bring the archaeology bill for the development site down from £200,000 to £25,000. In the process, it has attracted the attention of professionals such as the British Museum and found artefacts of national importance. It was runner up in the Dorset Archaeology Awards 2011 and nominated for best community project at the British Archaeology Awards 2012.
Handling Local Opposition
The Trust worked hard to overcome minority local opposition to the project. Working with the county's Affordable Housing Group it was able to overturn previous poor impressions of communities’ involvement in affordable housing. Within the community, although the parish plan showed over 80% support for more affordable housing, the minority opposition was highly vocal and aggressive. The chair and members of the Trust’s board have handled this tactfully and successfully.
The scheme is already having a huge knock-on impact. Over 70% of the village were involved in producing Worth’s new parish plan, and another community group has built a village hall. The former tea-shop, which had been put up for sale as a private residence, was bought up by local residents and reopened as a tea shop and supper room. The former post office and shop has a similar story – once sold as a private residence, it is now open as an ice cream parlour, B&B and outlet for local art.