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Major milestone for Community Land Trust as keys handed over to final four affordable homes for local people


Major milestone for Community Land Trust as keys handed over to final four affordable homes for local people

A pioneering East Cambridgeshire Community Land Trust (CLT) set up by local people to build more affordable homes in their community, has passed a major milestone with the final four of its 23 properties now completed and occupied.

The affordable homes at the Stretham and Wilburton Community Land Trust’s (SWCLT) Manor Farm development in Stretham are allocated to those with strong connections to the area, allowing them to live and work locally. The SWCLT is helping those who may otherwise be forced out of the villages by increasing house prices to stay in those communities through affordable rent and shared ownership housing.

The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority have a dedicated community housing team who can help individuals or community groups looking to start new Community led housing projects across the region with practical steps such as seeking planning permission and obtaining grant funding.  The Combined Authority community housing team have helped the SWCLT to obtain funding and seek planning permission on a second project in Wilburton.  Anyone interested in community housing is urged to get in touch to discuss how they can be helped.

The 23 affordable homes owned by the SWCLT are legally tied to the community, including the asset value and any rental income. The four newest homes for affordable rent, located in Dokey Court, are the first one-bed bungalows offered by the SWCLT. They are designed to suit those who may have certain mobility issues and have wet rooms for greater accessibility.

And this year the SWCLT trustees also decided that with the struggles brought by Covid-19, it would waive rental payments for December 2020 for those who have been living in its homes since the start of the pandemic.

Chair of the Stretham and Wilburton Community Land Trust, Charles Roberts, said:

“Setting up the SWCLT was about trying to reclaim some control of our community’s future. For too long we were seeing local people pushed away from the place they call home due to increasing housing cost. Affordable housing was the number one priority and we have already delivered what we set out to do with these 23 homes.

“We have proven the CLT model works but this is still the start because the demand for affordable homes from local people still exceeds supply. A planning application has been submitted at Camp’s Field, Wilburton, which would see a further 35 affordable homes built for our CLT to help meet that demand.

“In what has been an exceptionally tough, long year, we felt it was right to offer our CLT residents a month’s rent waiver for December as a one-off gesture. It is only because we are a CLT, with rent payments staying in the community, that we have been able to do this.”

The CLT’s property asset value stands at around £6 million, with £12,500 per month being generated in rental income and all at zero cost to the taxpayer to build or maintain. The rental income alone is more than double the Stretham Parish Council precept— the parish’s portion of the overall council tax bill. All of this is value is legally tied to the community.

The CLT can also support other community initiatives and has been working with the NHS to get a new doctors’ surgery built at Manor Farm.

Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, James Palmer said:

“The Stretham and Wilburton Community Land Trust is without doubt a trailblazer and shows the vast potential of this way of delivering housing.

“Community Land Trusts are a key component of our housing policy and we have a dedicated team helping to facilitate their establishment across the region. This model can work anywhere and we’re here to support communities in setting them up.

“And I also want to praise the Community Land Trust for supporting its residents with a rent-free December in a year which has turned lives and livelihoods upside down. It is testament to the fact that empowering local people to deliver affordable housing also helps to strengthen the glue that holds communities together.”