On Saturday 12th March 2011 local people had their first chance to have a say about what they want to see in happen in our area – and a most enjoyable event it was to. The East London Community Land Trust aims to acquire and develop the site of St Clement’s Hospital in Mile End, creating family-sized housing which is affordable in perpetuity. The site is currently owned by the Homes and Communities Agency and negotiations are ongoing as the CLT aims to acquire the land. (See more pictures here)
A team of planners, developers, architects and financiers are on board to provide expertise to the CLT as the scheme develops, while simultaneously the project has a wealth of support from the local community.
Schools, mosques, churches and other local institutions are on board in order to ensure the project is not only backed by the local community, but also representative of it. Strong community organising and leadership is at the heart of the CLT’s campaigning.
The community partnership has also set up an Industrial and Provident Society that is actively fundraising so that it may become a viable project delivery vehicle. The body has also attracted a respectable and HCA approved investment partner and developer.
Community land trusts offer a practical contribution to resolving the affordable housing crisis. They also offer government the opportunity to fulfil electoral promises of decentralisation of power and influence, empowerment of local communities, and increased partnership working.
London Citizens will be conducting a survey in the area surrounding the site. Residents within a 300m radius will be contacted via door knocking – or as many as they can get round – and be asked about local housing, community and the idea of a community land trust. You can take the survey online by clicking the button on the left
What is a Community Land Trust
A Community Land Trust (CLT) is a not for profit organisation. It is based in a community, and it is an organization which is committed to the looking after, and maintaining a neighbourhood. It works to make land, houses and other buildings benefit the community and to be affordable for local people FOREVER.
CLTs properties can come in lots of different forms. They may be for rent. They may be “shared ownership” properties. They may be organised on a co-operative basis, or they may even be sold like a normal house. But crucially, the land they are on is never sold. Rather it is leased from the Trust – which is made up of local people – to the owner or renter. So when anybody chooses to move, they have to sell or give the property back to the trust at a fixed increase in price, so the Trust can sell it to another local family at another affordable rate. This way they offer permanent affordability for communities.
A Land Trust would make houses cheaper for local people. How?
The average house price today in Tower Hamlets is £362,373 (November 2010). Yet it is estimated that in London 50% of the cost of a house is the cost of the land it is on – building materials and everything else make up only half. So by separating the ownership of homes from the ownership of the land they are on, via a ground lease, you can make them significantly cheaper.
How could a Community Land Trust create ‘permanent affordability’?
Unlike other forms of ‘intermediate’ affordable housing, the beauty of land trusts is that the subsidy lasts forever – it is not just given away to the first family lucky enough to move in. This happens because, when buying the house, the home buyer and the Trust enter into an agreement about the resell price.
And how is it better for the wider community?
The ownership and the management of the land within a CLT belongs to the local community. Typically Land Trusts are made up of a Board of Trustees, 1/3 of which represents the CLT’s residents, 1/3 of which represents the local area (schools, churches, social institutions) and 1/3 represents the wider interests of the city or borough. This means that local people, both inside and outside its walls, control how it is run. This could range from anything from running a community pub or supermarket to ensuring Sharia compliant mortgages.
What could a CLT mean in the East End of London?
The East End of London has the Olympic Games coming to us in 2012. More than £9 billion has already been spent, and an area the size of Hyde Park will be left after the Games to be developed for housing. Nearly 10,000 homes will be built, and London Citizens has called for 2012 of these homes to be formed into a Community Land Trust.