Affordable Housing in Staughton – is at last becoming a reality

It started with the Village Plan which identified a need for affordable housing for people with a local connection. Negotiations with HDC, meetings with the Community Land Trust, Charity Commission involvement, legal difficulties all followed but now finally, we are ready to form a Community Land Trust (CLT) to build and manage 8 properties in the Charity Field on Perry Road. In total it is planned there will be 10 properties on the field, but 2 will be sold to assist in financing the scheme. The rules of the CLT have now been drawn up (you can see them on this village website), and they are adapted to our specific needs.

The scheme will be presented by a panel of experts at a special public meeting on Saturday February 3 2018, starting at 7.00pm in the village hall, and all residents of the parish are cordially invited to attend. Our panel includes Jonathan Gray – District Councillor, Frank Mastrandrea – HDC Housing, Andy Chapman – Luminus, and Debbie Wildridge – Area representative of the Community Land Trust. Their presentations are bound to lead to many audience questions about this innovative scheme, so we hope that there will be a healthy turnout!

An important part of the meeting will be a resolution to form the Great Staughton Community Land Trust and residents will have the opportunity of registering their interest ahead of the official Notice of Incorporation which will take place on March 1 2018. You can become a member of the Great Staughton CLT on payment of a pound, and have a say in the running of the organisation, and be eligible for election to the Board. You can join at the meeting on 3rd February or indicate your wish with your details in the contact section of the website.

This is one of the most important meetings we have had in the village so do put the date in your diary now!


 Background Information

A Steering Group has been established for the scheme, comprising of Bob Jewell (Chair), Sir Hugh Duberly, Anthony Withers, Frank Backhouse, Phil Yates, Janet Bowen and Tracey Stokes, who will also attend the meeting on February 3rd.

HDC has agreed in principle that the site of the proposed scheme could form a ‘rural exception site’ for planning purposes. All Local Authorities are now under a duty to establish areas of land for potential building purposes in their area, to meet government building targets.

A CLT is a legal mixture of a company, a charity and a trust, registered as a society under the Co-Operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014, with charitable status and unable to trade for profit. CLTs are often used to run affordable housing schemes and other community based ventures.

The rules of the Gt Staughton CLT will govern who is eligible to be a member and so can apply for and own a £1 share in the CLT (must be a resident of the Parish of Gt Staughton and on its electoral roll), how it is run (by a board of 5 to 12 of the members, who are called trustees, elected for 3 year terms), how meetings must be organised and run, as well as the general powers and responsibilities of the CLT. In these respects it will be run like a company, holding an annual general meeting with reports back to its members.

The decisions on the specific type of housing, the nature of the tenancy (rented or shared ownership) and the exact details of who can occupy the properties will be decided by the CLT. It is intended that all the properties will be first made available to those who have strong connection with Great Staughton and then to those from surrounding villages. This will form the basis of the allocations policy operated by the housing association.


Update on Affordable Housing project provided by Anthony withers at Parish Assembly

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

Update on Project

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.