Great Staughton

Great Staughton Community Land Trust provides affordable housing to local people.

Haddenham

  • Type of Community-Led Housing: Community Land Trust
  • County: Cambridgeshire
  • Local Authority: East Cambridgeshire District Council
  • Number of Homes:  19 (a mix of 1, 2 and 3 bed properties) homes in a total development of 54 homes. 17 of these are affordable rent, with 2 shared ownership
  • Year of Completion: Ongoing
  • More information: www.haddenhamclt.org.uk

Haddenham Community Land Trust began as an idea presented to Haddenham Parish Council in 2015. Once the CLT was set up, planning permission for Ovins Rise was granted in 2018, and the first tenants moved into their new homes in early 2021.

Starting the Community Land Trust

Haddenham CLT Chairman, Mark Hugo was inspired by the Manor Farm development supported by Stretham & Wilburton CLT taking place less than 5 miles away. The idea to form Haddenham CLT was proposed to Haddenham Parish Council who were supportive. The CLT was formed as a separate entity to the Parish Council to involve the wider community, to avoid adding to Parish Council workload, and to move the process forward at pace.

The aim of the CLT was to provide affordable homes for people with a strong desire to live in Haddenham and Aldreth and a real connection to the village. The need for affordable homes was particularly an issue in Haddenham due to rising house purchase and rental prices because of the village’s proximity to Cambridge and Ely. Haddenham Parish Council, and later the CLT, also wanted to prevent local people being forced to move away and the village increasingly becoming a commuter village. In order to assess applications for housing at Ovins Rise, a strict allocations policy was put in place by the CLT. This was developed as part of the planning process and works as a points system, allocating potential tenants points based on the number of years they had previously lived in Haddenham and Aldreth, whether they work or have caring commitments in the village, whether they have children in the school, and strong family connections.

Support and funding

Haddenham CLT had support in the form of advice and funding from a wide range of stakeholders. These included:

  • Haddenham Parish Council – support and small grants.
  • East Cambridgeshire District Council – very supportive and provided early grant money.
  • Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority – on-going support from technical advisors. £6.5m development finance from the Combined Authority to developers Palace Green Homes to help Haddenham CLT deliver their plans.
  • Homes England – the first round of the Community Housing Fund provided funding for initial professional fees.
  • Palace Green Homes – the developer. The CLT partnership with Palace Green Homes meant that there was no upfront CLT financing for architects, land purchase, planning, or construction. The CLT houses were purchased from Palace Green Homes under an agreed arrangement which meant that the properties were acquired at a discount to full market price. Palace Green Homes were able to sell their 35 properties at full market value which preserved their business model. The CLT properties were purchased at the end of construction with a secured mortgage loan serviced by ongoing rental income. Around £58,000 from the whole site development was also raised for the parish council to use on facilities via the Community Infrastructure Levy.
  • Triodos Bank – provides the mortgage for Haddenham CLT.
  • The Haddenham and Aldreth community – importantly, the CLT had the support of the community. They engaged the wider community with the process and held public consultations in 2016 and 2017 on site selection for the scheme and on design. The plans were changed to reflect the concerns of near neighbours and to date 122 local people are signed up as members of the CLT.
  • Lucy Frazer, the South East Cambridgeshire MP, visited Ovins Rise and viewed one of the properties on 21 May 2021 to show her support.

Impact of Covid-19

Once planning permission was received and a full archaeological site survey was completed, work on site for Haddenham CLT started in late autumn 2019. The site had to be closed in March 2020 due to Covid-19. The image below shows the site in February 2020, just before national lockdown.

Credit – Haddenham Community Land Trust

Work restarted on site in summer 2020, with the image below showing a Trustee meeting on site in July.

Additional materials, supply, and transport problems for the developer caused delays and the initial construction programme had to be extended. Overall, the original timeline suggested that the first homes on site would be completed in August 2020, and these ended up being delivered in November 2020. The first CLT homes were occupied in January 2021. The CLT is run by trustees who are unpaid volunteers but they have engaged the services of an experienced housing manager who deals with tenants and administration. By mid-2022 the whole development should be completed.

Advice to groups

Haddenham CLT’s advice to community-led housing groups, particularly Community Land Trusts, includes:

  1. Ensure that if the beginnings of the CLT are with strong Parish Council support that the development is not run as a Parish Council sub-committee. The CLT should become a separate legal entity. It should be strongly business minded.
  2. Gain the input of a wide range of skills including leadership, management, housing know-how, commercial, accounting, and marketing. Trustees are unpaid volunteers so both their time commitment and skills/experience are required.
  3. Secure early-stage funding, grants and/or partnerships with developers for architects, planning, and other early-stage costs. This means that the CLT does not need to raise considerable funding upfront with no security that the project will proceed and lays the foundation for a solid financial model for the CLT to function viably once the project commences.

Lavenham

  • Type of Community-Led Housing: Community Land Trust
  • County: Suffolk
  • Local Authority: Babergh District Council
  • Number of Homes: 18 (a mix of 1, 2 and 3 bed properties)
  • Year of completion: 2019
  • More information: www.lavenhamclt.onesuffolk.net

Lavenham CLT was established in April 2015. It has 6 trustees and around 50 members. Their first development was Peek Close in Lavenham, with all homes occupied by October 2019.

Identifying Need and Establishing Funding

The initial need for affordable housing in Lavenham was established through the Neighbourhood Plan which was adopted in September 2016 by Babergh District Council. Community Action Suffolk also carried out regular Housing Needs Surveys with Lavenham Parish Council which confirmed the demand for affordable homes for local people.

Funding for the Peek Close scheme was provided from Homes England, Babergh District Council, Hastoe Housing Association and the CLT itself. Post-development the CLT receive £100 a year ground rent per property (£1800 in total) to cover the running costs of the CLT.

Land acquisition and build

The CLT identified a site they thought would be suitable, a former gritting site owned by Suffolk County Council. Being aware of their own limitations in terms of knowledge from this point, the CLT partnered with Hastoe Housing, a housing association, to act as the registered provider. To acquire the brownfield site, a 125-year lease was granted from Suffolk County Council to Hastoe Housing. Lavenham CLT then acquired the freehold for £1. As well as support from Hastoe Housing, the CLT also received support from officers from Babergh District Council Housing and Planning Officers.

To ensure the homes were affordable to occupy and run, they were built to the Association for Environment Conscious Building (AECB) Building Standard which although created a higher upfront cost, led to a significant reduction in running costs.

Hastoe Housing now completely manage the site of Peek Close but the properties are owned by Lavenham CLT.

Peek Close Development – Copyright Bryan Panton

Challenges

Challenges were identified throughout with difficulties encountered at each stage. However, Lavenham CLT identified that one of the more challenging aspects of the project was at the initiation stage with the legal proceedings surrounding the formation of the CLT officially and the governance and rules of this. Another challenging aspect, which is not unusual with community-led housing projects, was the acquiring of the land for the development. Securing the land here was possible due to supportive Suffolk County Councillors.

One of the most important factors to overcoming challenges and ensuring the success of the project was having someone very keen and passionate about the project in order to drive it forward.

Next steps

Due to Covid-19, the official opening of Peek Close (originally meant to be March 2020) was cancelled. The group are still hoping this will be able to happen in the future.

The CLT also has another project in the pipeline. They are currently in the process of buying 4 affordable homes from a developer on a site in Lavenham. Initially the management of these properties will be contracted out to Babergh District Council and the allocation of the properties to residents will also be managed by the council.

Colchester

  • Type of Community-Led Housing: Cohousing
  • County: Essex
  • Local Authority: Colchester Borough Council
  • Number of Homes: 23 (6 1-2 bed flats and 17 2-3 bed houses)
  • Year of Completion: 2019
  • More information: www.cannockmillcohousing.co.uk

Cannock Mill, Colchester is a cohousing development delivered by a group of around 30 like-minded people. The development is made up of 23 flats and houses as well as communal spaces for all residents and won ‘Best Community or Group Self Build Project’ at the Build It Awards.

Ethos and governance of Cannock Mill cohousing

The members of Cannock Mill cohousing group share similar values and aims, common within cohousing communities. In this case, the group focuses on low energy and environmentally friendly living and see the benefits of living in an intentional community such as this. This shared interest of eco-living is reflected through the development in the low energy homes, solar power generation, and shared vegetable gardens.

Whilst the age range of the group currently is from late fifties onwards, this is not a restrictive group and anyone is welcome to join.

The cohousing group is legally constituted as a company. In order to ensure an equal split of work during the build phase, each member was part of at least 2 sub-groups such as finance or social activities. There were monthly Board meetings to ensure all members were up to date on current work and included in discussions.

Funding, site and development

The development at Cannock Mill was largely self-funded, with all members of the group providing as much money as they could. So that the development could be completed the group received a loan from the Homes and Communities Agency (now Homes England) which was paid back upon sale of the members’ houses when they moved into Cannock Mill.

In order to proceed with their idea of a cohousing development, the group needed to identify and secure a site. Although mostly originally from London, they used the following criteria to help them identify a suitable place:

  • Affordable land – London prices were too expensive. They needed a large enough town so there was easy access to amenities and no forced dependency on cars, but also within easy reach of the countryside.
  • A ‘wow’ factor – a place they could fall in love with.

This led the group to deciding on a site in Colchester that allows for the proximity to the countryside which the group desired but is also on the edge of a large town so that the site does not feel isolated and the residents can be part of the wider community. Adjacent to woodland and including a Grade II listed water mill, Cannock Mill provided the ‘wow’ factor the group was looking for and this was only amplified by the design and eco-standards of the new development.

In line with the group’s eco-living ethos, the 23 homes were designed and built to ‘Passivhaus’ standards. The design process was led by one of the group members, an award-winning eco-architect. The development went out to tender in Summer 2016 and was completed in 2019. Alongside the 23 homes there is a common house. This is the old listed mill building, which has been renovated to now provide a kitchen and dining room, lounge, library, guest rooms, and workshops, all with full disabled access. The pond at the Mill has also been restored.

Cannock Mill, Colchester

Copyright Cannock Mill

Key Advice: The key advice from Cannock Mill Cohousing for any potential new cohousing groups is to join the UK Cohousing Network. This not only provides a large amount of information, but also connects groups.

Next steps

A second phase of development at the Cannock Mill site aims to convert an old Victorian house on the site into 3 additional flats in 2021.

Norwich

Sustainable Housing Community Norfolk (previously called Tiny House Community Norfolk) has formed to create affordable low impact homes for local people in and around Norwich. Currently with a membership of 7, its members aspire to live simply, sustainably, and in a strong community. They are highly focused on local needs in their community, which includes a strong need for affordable housing, but also includes addressing rural isolation and loneliness, food quality and security, and meeting the challenges of the climate crisis.

Tiny Houses have become a topic of debate in the UK, where national space standards have generally made tiny houses difficult as a solution to the housing crisis, and this isn’t helped by the exploitation of permissive development rights to create incredibly cramped, unhealthy housing by unscrupulous developers.

However, the Tiny Houses Movement is about far more than just living in a small space (typically a ‘tiny home’ is defined as under 500 square feet or 46 m2).  Tiny House living is about living an environmentally conscious lifestyle, shared community experiences, affordable and financially prudent living, and a shift away from consumerism-driven mindsets. Sustainable Housing Community Norfolk share the intrinsic values of the international Tiny House movement, and are seeking to create a community that meets these values and desires rather than rigidly stick to a particular floor area that might undermine support for their scheme at planning.

The group are at an early stage in their development but have already begun to reach out to other existing projects across the UK to draw on inspiration, peer support, and learning to help them on their way.  With the support of an enabler from Eastern Community Homes, the group are developing their high-level vision to put detail to their aspirations and begin to answer technical questions.

Through a series of on-line workshops, the group are addressing a series of topics including: the development process and routes to completing their own homes; housing need; group decision making and communication; construction methods and self-build; housing tenure and ownership models; financial and business models; and legal structure and incorporation.  They have been supported to adopt an initial constitution as an unincorporated association (to be updated later to a more appropriate incorporated form) and are being supported to continue their own research and learning about topics such as environmental sustainability.

Sustainable Housing Community Norfolk are actively seeking partnerships with land owners and potential sites for their community across Norfolk.

Visit Sustainable Housing Community Norfolk’s website.

Find out more about Ecomotive, who are supporting Sustainable Housing Community Norfolk along with Eastern Community Homes.

Cambridge

  • Type of Community-Led Housing: Cohousing
  • County: Cambridgeshire
  • Local Authority: Cambridge City Council
  • Number of Homes: 42 (a mix of 1/2 bed apartments and 3/4 bed houses)
  • Year of Completion: 2018
  • More information: www.marmaladelane.co.uk

Marmalade Lane is a cohousing development in Cambridge which has won numerous awards including the Richard Feilden Award 2019 at the Housing Design Awards, the 2019 National Urban Design Award (Public Sector), and the Cambridge Property Awards Environmental Award.

Set-up of Cambridge cohousing

Cohousing is inherently participatory, with Marmalade Lane designed and run by Cambridge Cohousing Limited. The original idea for a cohousing scheme on the K1 site in Orchard Park came from Cambridge City Council following a visit to Vauban. A group of potential future residents began to form around the opportunity and in 2013 a company, Cambridge Cohousing Limited, was formed to give a legal framework to the group.

Funding and development

Often the 2 most complex elements of cohousing initiatives are the funding of the scheme and finding a suitable (and available) plot of land.

The initial funding for Cambridge Cohousing came from a Homes and Communities Agency grant enabling the submission of a planning proposal to South Cambridgeshire District Council.

Access to land (originally known as ‘plot K1’) was unlocked by Cambridge City Council after the 2008 financial crash. Once access to land was confirmed the development partner, TOWN in partnership with Trivselhus & Mole Architects, was appointed by Cambridge City Council in line with the brief given by the group. The use of an enabling developer brought the expertise the Council was seeking and removed the risk and financial responsibility from the future residents often associated with cohousing schemes. Once the design was finalised with the architects (with the cohousing group attending design meetings) and the planning application successful, building started in June 2017 and was completed in December 2018.

Now the scheme is complete, Cambridge Cohousing Limited own the land and a combination of freehold and leasehold agreements protect the interests of the whole group. Each member owns the freehold of their house (for apartments this is a 999-year leasehold) meaning that through Cambridge Cohousing each member has joint ownership of the freehold of the development. This is a common set-up for developments with shared resources such as cohousing schemes.

Features of Marmalade Lane

The key features of Marmalade Lane, alongside the 42 homes, are the shared facilities. These include:

  • Common House – this includes a large shared kitchen, lounge, laundry facilities, guest bedrooms, and workshops.
  • Shared Gardens – large shared gardens for the whole cohousing community.
  • The Lane – this is a car-free street through the development which allows for children to safely plan and for neighbourly interaction.

There is also access to car parking and secure cycle parking.

Running the scheme post-completion

To ensure the community remains fairly owned and run by those that live in it, all owners of properties become a member of Cambridge Cohousing Limited. This allows members to vote and each household nominates an individual as a director of the company, so each household has equal weighting in decision making.

In order to financially maintain the scheme, there is an annual service charge for each property paid to Cambridge Cohousing Ltd. There is an additional £1000 added to this in the first year in order to help set up the shared facilities.

Currently all of the properties are occupied and there is a waiting list for new residents.

Advice for those interested in cohousing: To focus on the land as this is one of the most challenging aspects. Once a site is identified and confirmed people will come around the land.

Read more about what cohousing is in our FAQ.