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The solution

Why the combination of community-led housing and CLTs works. 
 

Why community-led housing?

We believe it's right that communities themselves should be able to determine the housing that's in their area – who it's for, where it's located, and how it looks. This (“community-led housing”) is fundamentally about redistributing power from private interests – which may have no real stake in a place – to the people who live there. In other words, community empowerment.

Community Land Trusts make this possible, taking land into community ownership in perpetuity and ensuring it doesn't re-enter private hands again. You can read more about how we do this here.

Empowering communities in this way has knock-on advantages, both because of the process it employs and because of its outcomes (i.e. the housing it creates). Research has shown that:

  • Process: the participation of CLT members and residents in the joint activities of meeting, designing homes, organising community consultations, etc., can reduce loneliness and, through meaningful interactions, give people a sense of power over their local area.

  • Outcome: when communities can design their own homes and streetscapes, they tend to develop more sociable places, often designing in shared gardens and greens and moving parking away from homes. This reduces loneliness among residents; and their sense of belonging and connection to their neighbours also increases. This has further positive effects, enabling shared childcare and reducing time spent preparing meals, which in turn creates more leisure time and reduces time-pressure-related stress. Residents also have more support to undertake physical activity and healthier eating behaviours.

Why CLTs?

Community Land Trusts (CLTs) have advantages over other structures when it comes to developing community-led housing:

 

  • They operate on a one-member-one-vote basis, ensuring that decision-making is democratic and responsive to the community

  • Their homes are not eligible for the Right to Buy, which is the reason why so much council housing has been sold off

  • They have asset locks in their rules. This means that if they are ever dissolved, their assets (e.g. land and housing) must be transferred to another organisation whose purpose is to benefit the public.

 

Together, these features mean CLTs can act as long-term stewards of the land and other assets they own, ensuring that they remain accessible and affordable in perpetuity.

 

As community organisations, CLTs also don’t need to make as much profit as private developers. This means they’re able to work with sites and buildings that present challenges that private developers or landlords are unwilling to take on, because they cost money, for example brownfield land that needs remediation.

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