Since the Localism Act in 2011, the number of community land trusts has tripled, according to independent consultant Stephen Hill. In his speech at the CCH conference, he talked about some of the most recent community land trust initiatives.
A Community Land Trust acquires multiple parcels of land through a targeted geographical area aiming to retain ownership of these parcels. Buildings on the area can be sold to housing co-ops.
Mr Hill has been working on the development of Community Land Trusts since 1989. Having just returned from the USA from a fellowship looking at relation bet citizens and state through housing, he thinks the UK could learn from some initiatives developed here. He gave the example of the Cooper Square Committee, which was set up in 1959 to oppose the City of New York’s Slum Clearance plan. Between1991 -2006 the Committee, now a housing association, helped modernise 22 formerly city-owned buildings and 356 homes for $20m.
People in London are in the same position as those in Cooper Square, said Mr Hill. In West Kengsington and Gibbs Green 760 homes occupied by 2,000 people are threatened with demolition as part of the Earl’s Court redevelopment scheme. The residents have voted to use the Right to Transfer legislation – to transfer their social housing stock away from the control of the council and to a private registered provider. A similar initiative has taken place in Sussex.
In East London, a community-run scheme initiated by Citizens UK will help build 23 affordable homes for the local people by redeveloping St Clement’s Hospital.
St Clement’s is London’s first Community Land Trust and the biggest community land trust in the UK. Built in 1848, the site was a mental health hospital after the World War II, but closed down in 2005 and since then it has been in decline.
The CCH has worked with CIHC to help set up community land trusts.
Nic Bliss explained: “There are different types of co-op housing schemes being set up at the moment, all about ordinary people, in ordinary communities. People set up use different approaches to meet different needs. Community land trusts are one of them. Actually the whole value of co-op housing is about people developing solutions in their own ways.
“One of the legal forms people use is CLTs, but we would see them all being part of housing sector. They are all democratic organisations set up in the interest of the community. They are part of a bigger family.”
- For more stories from the Confederation of Co-operative Housing 2014 2014 conference, click here