Housing co-op Somerset Co-operative Community Land Trust (SCCLT) is selling community shares in Taunton to add two properties to its portfolio.
It says the project will offer new flats with affordable rents, and workspaces for community enterprises that provide skills, opportunity and employment for disadvantaged people.
East Taunton is one of the most deprived areas in Somerset, with many people affected by the benefits freeze, pollution, low wages, insecure employment and problems with addiction and mental health. SCCLT wants to redress the balance by providing sustainable, affordable housing and workspaces for community enterprises promoting equality of opportunity.
The co-op already provides four affordable flats at its East Reach base in Taunton. The site also hosts social enterprises including a co-operative development agency, an urban farming project, the local credit union and community rail initiatives. The flats have provided a home for 12 people over the last three years – many of them unable to find suitable housing elsewhere.
The community shares issue has already raised over £250,000 with the support of almost 100 local people, many of whom volunteer at East Reach. The co-op needs to raise an additional £187,500 – and ideally more.
If the offer is successful, SCCLT will buy two nearby properties, both of which have potential for new buildings that will meet the most urgent needs of the local area.
“By developing urban rentals, using the latest eco-technologies, supporting co-operative enterprise and empowering tenants, we are pioneering new ways of relieving poverty and deprivation,” said Alan Debenham, chair of SCCLT.
SCCLT tenant Caitlyn Reynolds said: “When we came to the Land Trust we were five days from being homeless. They stepped in where everyone else had failed. Since then we have been able to study and find employment, and we have a happy home here. I have even been given the opportunity to become a board member, and share in the running of the project.”
The share offer ends on 30 November 2018. Find out more online here.