With the ongoing cost-of-living crisis more people than ever are in need of genuinely affordable options for housing. Community Land Trusts can provide enhanced community engagement in areas that are becoming increasingly diluted by massive tourist populations, supplying a more holistic, social benefit through the enactment of democratic decision-making and community ownership.
The think tank Localis has launched a new report, Brightness on the edge of town: how Community Land Trusts can deliver affordable housing.
The report calls for Government to give councils direct long-term funding and planning powers to support Community Land Trusts to build affordable homes for local people currently priced out of the housing market in tourism hotspots.
CLTs championed in new report
Blog authored by CLT Network CEO, Tom Chance
Almost all of the pioneer Community Land Trusts shared something in common – they were in tourist hotspots. Across Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Norfolk and Northumberland – and to a lesser degree in the Shropshire hills and Oxfordshire countryside – these areas faced two problems.
First, demand for housing from tourists and second home owners pushes up prices. Rental homes are converted into holiday lets, and a lot of new builds are sold to second homeowners. The rise of platforms like Airbnb has only made the tourist market more lucrative. Meanwhile, local wages are often low, and in some industries work is seasonal.
Second, these are areas that are hard to build in. They have stringent planning restrictions. They’re often remote – far from labour and builders’ yards. The sites are often small, on difficult slopes or with access challenges. Few builders and housing associations take on the challenge of providing more homes for local people.
Dozens of CLTs have risen to these challenges and built new homes, truly affordable to local people.
Fifteen years on from those pioneers and these are still hotspots of CLT activity today. Many of the most supportive MPs represent these constituencies – the Community Housing Fund could be credited to the efforts of our network and a few MPs in Cornwall and Dorset.
But we – you, the CLTs – still struggle to pull these projects off. Securing land, raising the money and getting planning consent remains difficult. In some touristy areas, we have highly successful enablers, but in other parts, there is little technical assistance and handholding.
So we asked and supported a leading think tank, Localis, to look at how this could be scaled up. How local and national government can support CLTs to make more of a dent in the problems faced in tourist hotspots – notwithstanding the need for other policies to curb the excesses of short-term holiday lets, etc.
Their report, published yesterday, is a detailed study of the issues and potential solutions.
I’d encourage every CLT to share it with their local council officers, councillors and MP. It provides a robust evidence base and policy proposals they could adopt.
For councils, the top shopping list items include asset transfers, funding, internal support and advocacy, and integration into the housing strategy and local planning policy.
For national governments in England and Wales, the headline is a £100m fund to build capacity and invest into a pipeline of projects. We are working with the UK Cohousing Network and Confederation of Co-operative Housing on detailed proposals for this kind of approach.
The report also suggests government enable communities to define affordability to match local circumstances, properly resourcing local planning departments, giving greater weight and priority to planning applications from CLTs, requiring affordable housing contributions on smaller sites, and Homes England doing more to persuade Housing Associations to partner with CLTs.
Many of their findings and recommendations echo our own in recent years. But some are new, and by looking specifically at touristy areas they bring new light on familiar problems.