Type of Community-Led Housing: Community Land Trust
Local Authority: Babergh District Council
Number of Homes: 18 (a mix of 1, 2 and 3 bed properties)
Year of Completion: 2019
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.
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.
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.
Read more about Lavenham CLT.