Proposal to build affordable housing on Charity Field (summary)
Notes for Annual Parish Assembly April 19 2017
3 sections, Background, Where we are now, Structure of the proposal
1. Brief background
Questionnaire for Village Plan reveals demand for affordable housing.
Ex Parish Councillor suggests Charity field could be used.
Steering group set up, investigation of practicality, visits to similar schemes.
Steady progress then govt and RTB proposals.
Late 2016 govt shifts position on RTB and Steering Group re-assembles to re-visit the scheme.
Initial action was to apply to the National CLT for a grant to help with the legal aspects. Note: we have been successful in securing £4k.
2. Where we are now
On Feb 15 and March 22 meetings held to resuscitate the scheme. The first meeting, with the CLT, was to establish a routemap.
The 2nd meeting convened the major players – CLT, Luminus and HDC Housing and Planning. Luminus and HDC both gave verbal indications that our scheme was feasible.
However, we are awaiting written agreements from both organisations, plus of course detailed plans.
3. Possible structure of the scheme
The Parish Charities grant the land to Gt Staughton CLT on a long lease (150 years). The CLT will in their turn negotiate a 99 year lease with Luminus who will build the houses and manage the scheme.
An Allocation Cttee, consisting of representatives from the Charities, the Gt Staughton CLT and HDC Housing will consider applications from eligible people ie with family and/or work connections to the village.
The Gt Staughton CLT will actually be a Community Benefit Society and every permanent resident of GtSt will be a member, possibly by purchasing a share for a nominal sum. This CBS will control the housing
and its tenants via a board of trustees, elected every 3 years. Initially the present steering group will act as trustees for 3 years.
An advantage of the CBS is that it is not restricted to housing. If for example a valued village facility (pub, shop etc) were threatened with closure, the CBS could step in to save it
Current Situation as at March 2017
The project was started some 4 years ago and progress was made, albeit slow.
The approach was to establish a Community land trust (CLT) in Great Staughton as the vehicle to deliver and manage the scheme. Membership will be open to all residents who express an interest and who may be asked to pay a nominal sum for a share. Only Great Staughton residents will be eligible.
The project then stalled for 2 years because the government proposed to extend the right to buy to tenants of CLT housing.
At the end of 2016 the government backtracked and the CLT Steering Group resuscitated the project. In the meantime any issues around the use of charities land for this purpose have been resolved with the charities commission.
Obviously we needed to find a way forward in what is a very complex project so we called upon CLT East to give us guidance. A first meeting in February pointed the way forward which was, amongst other suggestions, to consult the other players in the scheme.
Thus, a second meeting was held in March with the Steering Group, CLT East plus Luminus and HDC PLanning and Housing. To continue the project, finance is required and to this end a detailed application was made to the National CLT, requesting a grant of £4k. We expect to learn whether we have been successful by the time of the APA.
At this meeting Luminus and HDC gave their approval in principle that the scheme could go ahead, but we have as yet received no binding, written commitments from either body. The proposal is for the land to be leased to Luminus and they will manage the houses. The current suggestion is for 10 dwellings to be built with 2 houses for sale. The remaining dwellings will be built for people with local connections.
That is the current status. There are numerous legal and leasing arrangements to be agreed and ratified, but for the moment we can say that the project is on track, but that there are many, many significant hurdles to overcome.
Further consultation will occur as required and the normal planning consultation will take place as a part of the scheme. Details will appear in Life magazine, the village website and on Facebook. At all stages there will be consultations with residents who will hopefully bring their comments, positive and negative, to general attention.
Meeting to discuss progress on the provision of affordable housing in Great Staughton using the CLT framework
February 15 2017
Present: Debbie Wildridge (East Cambs CLT), Sir H Duberly, P Yates, F Backhouse, A Withers
Our proposal to build affordable housing on charity-owned land had stalled because of the government’s right to buy (RTB) proposals, which originally covered CLT projects.
The meeting was to obtain an update on the situation and hopefully move forward. DW was able to assure us that CLTs would be exempt.
The primary objective of the scheme is to ensure an income for the Parish Charities in perpetuity.
Our proposal is as follows:
A Community Beneficial Society (CBS) would be set up, otherwise known as the Great Staughton Community Land Trust.
The CBS would be run by trustees appointed by village residents, who would hold shares in the CBS. The CBS would secure an income from ground rent on the houses built.
Luminus would be responsible for the building and management of the scheme. The land would be made available free of charge by the Parish Charities. It is proposed that 8 affordable and two “market” houses would be built.(However, DW pointed out that funding for such schemes via housing associations like Luminus has been cut and this may mean that more “market” houses need to be built to make the scheme viable. This may cause problems.)
The land would be offered on a long lease – 125 years is suggested, and CBS / Gt Staughton CLT would hold the head lease, with Luminus the sub-lessee, and the houses would be owned by the CLT.
At the same time as negotiations with Luminus are entered into, confirmation would be obtained from HDC planning that all is in order.
Tenants would ultimately be part of the organisational structure.
The Parish Charities and the Parish Council would maintain oversight of all aspects of the scheme as the negotiations unfold to ensure that the best interests of both were upheld.
It would be good to complete by April 19 (APA). AW is away March 10 – 17.
Arrange meeting with Luminus and HDC planning. FB and AW to attend.
Unlock £4k funding from CLT body to recruit lawyers and reimburse DW. DW will complete the necessary forms.
Establish board of trustees for the CBS. This will be the present steering group. Ideal number would be 5.
In all the negotiations, the Parish Charities must receive an annual income at least equivalent to the present amount.
If you have any comments please let me have them by email, not in the document itself please.
Meeting No. 2 to establish a Great Staughton CLT
Held at the Village Hall, March 22 2017
Present: D Wildridge, CLT East (DW), Frank Mastreandrea, HDC Planning (FM), Andy Chapman, Luminus (AC)
Sir H Duberly (HD), Frank Backhouse (FB), Anthony Withers (AW)
Apologies: Tracey Stokes (TS), Philip Yates (PY), Bob Jewell (RJ)
At Meeting No. 1 a basic Agenda was compiled outlining the various stages to be followed to establish a CLT for Great Staughton.
Meeting No. 2 brought together the principal players to take the project forward with a detailed action plan.
DW led the discussions.
DW confirmed the Right to Buy proposals by the government (which had stalled progress on the CLT) now no longer apply to CLTs.
Luminus confirmed their interest and capability in taking part in the CLT project. Their current workload would allow them to proceed without delay, using their own funds.
HDC Planning anticipated no problem in resuscitating the scheme originally drawn up three years ago for the building of 8 affordable and 2 market houses on the site.
Mechanics of the scheme
The Parish Charities will cede the charity field on Perry Road to the newly formed Great Staughton CLT (to be known as a Community Benefit Society), under a 150 year lease.
Note that the Parish Charities will not incur any charges involved in setting up the lease agreement. It may be possible to adapt the CLT – Luminus lease.
The GS CLT will grant the land to Luminus under a 99 year lease. The GS CLT will own the houses. These arrangements need to be verified with solicitors.
Luminus will build and manage the houses. Apart from 2 market houses, the remainder will be for rent.
Income for the Parish Charities
A prime objective for the Parish Charities is to secure an income from the scheme at least equal to current levels (£250 approx. per year). This will be secured via a peppercorn ground rent on the properties, probably amounting to £1000, of which £500 would help defray necessary CLT expenses, and £500 would go to the Parish Charities. Both figures (which are notional at this stage) would increase by the annual rate of inflation, and after 20 years, a complete upward review and possible overhaul of the income would be undertaken.
Time scale action list
CLT East is submitting our application to the National CLT network by April 6 2017.
Action required: lawyers to set up CLT, to be activated as soon as practicable after April 2017.
Following the successful application to the National CLT a lease will be drawn up specifically adapted to Great Staughton. FM distributed an example of such an agreement between Council, Luminus and the CLT.
Action required: Lawyers to be appointed to draw up the lease.
HDC Planning – Luminus will give the green light to the existing scheme, updating where necessary.
Action required: By mid – end April a detailed plan of the scheme to be submitted.
Building projections (caution advised!)
- GS CLT received funding to set up CLT by April 2017.
- Lease agreements in place July – August 2017.
- HDC Planning gives the go-ahead by end 2017.
- Work starts New Year 2018, completed end 2018.
- The houses are being built for people with a local connection. Standard agreements are available specifying exact terms and conditions should no applicants for the affordable housing come forward from Great Staughton at any time, then the surrounding villages of ……, ….., and …… would be considered under the same allocations criteria’
2. Allocations Policy
This is a key issue and to ensure the “right people” are selected the Allocations Cttee would consist of CLT trustees, the Parish Charities, Luminus, and HDC Housing.
3. Houses are likely to be 2 bedroom, and available for rent only. This would be a market rent, defined as 80% of current market levels for the area.
The APA on April 19 will provide an opportunity to update residents on progress so far and to take account of any comments, expressions of interest and objections.
A constitution for the CLT needs to be established. This can be done simultaneously with the creation of the CLT.
Initially, the current steering group would act as trustees.
This will be open to all residents who express an interest and who may be asked to pay a nominal sum for a share. Only Great Staughton residents will be eligible. On moving from the village, their membership would lapse.
The Parish Council is working with the Great Staughton Charities and the District Council to see if affordable housing can be delivered in the village. The plan is to establish a community land trust to be the vehicle to deliver and manage the potential development.
Meeting of steering group on Affordable Homes Proposal
Village Hall October 19 2016
Present: HD, RJ, FB, TS, PY and AW
Purpose: to review progress and identify actions, taking into account the need to report to Parish Charities and Parish Council meetings coming up in the next 2 weeks.
1. Right to buy
Legislation is underway, but it is not yet clear whether CLTs will be exempt, although this is likely. However, Housing Associations may be caught and we understand that some are considering changing their constitutions to avoid the problem. It is essential that we have control of the scheme.
– Check with e.g. HASTOE in Norfolk which is believed to have found a solution to the Right to Buy, in a similar situation to ours.
– Contact D. Wildridge (ex CLT East and now of East Cambs DC) for her input (may be a cost) (HD).
2. Community Land Trust (CLT) and Luminus
Using a CLT appears to be the best solution for the scheme and offers an established pathway, with many examples of existing affordable housing.
– Consult with CLT East/CLT National Network (Z. Savory?) and Luminus again (HD/Parish Clerk) and advise them we are now ready to move to the next stage. Organise two separate meetings, with both CLT (before year end) and Luminus (by end January). Luminus have recently emailed Parish clerk to ask whether we are still interested in a scheme. Request further advice on costs and all grants/funding available.
– Assuming Parish Charities and Parish Council approve, apply for Stage 2 CLT funding (£4000), request Parish Council to fund if required in meantime, on basis of probable refund. Cost of setting up CLT approx. £4500.
– Cambs ACRE (M. Sheker) may also be able to help further.
– Take advice on the structure of a CLT – who should be the trustees/directors and members.
– Establish agreed committee for CLT.
– Consider timing of setting up a CLT (once exemption from Right to Buy is clear).
– Consider contents of draft heads of terms with Luminus (TS can do in due course when has enough information, plus any other legal issues).
– Request another visit to suitable existing housing scheme(s) nearby (South Cambs DC?) for those interested (visitor numbers may be limited) (AW).
– Check if online information exists which depicts suitable existing schemes, possibly Swaffham, Norfolk (BJ).
3. Parish Charities
We now appear to have clarified exactly how the relevant land is currently owned and how it could be transferred to a CLT (by existing trustees of the Parish Charities). Transfer of land to a charity (including a CLT) is exempt from Stamp Duty Land Tax at present. To be rechecked in due course (TS).
– Secure the approval of the trustees of the Parish Charities at their next meeting, to proceed to next stage.
– Obtain a plan of relevant fields (HD).
– Publish progress report in Life Magazine.
– Consider update on village website (BJ).
– Inform Parish Assembly of progress.
HDC have indicated that an application for affordable housing would be well received. Planning cannot be progressed any further at present until other aspects are clearer.
– Obtain copy of possible plan for the scheme previously drawn up by Luminus.
– Find out if 2013 village survey is still a valid representation of needs for the proposed scheme, to support planning application – ask M. Deas.
– Consider likely overall timetable.
– Contact D. Giddings again.