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News from the Dales – what is best value?

 

A Community Land Trust in the Dales has run into the requirement for the Parochial Church Council, as a charity, to accept the highest price (aka ‘best value’) on offer for a redundant church school, rather than a slightly lower offer from The Upper Dales Community Land Trust.

The asking price of £185,000 has been offered by seven different prospective purchasers, all of who appear to want to turn it into a private home. The Community Land Trust offered £150,000 with a plan to then convert the single-storey building into three two-bedroom homes and one one-bedroom home, all affordable. The proposal was backed by the parish council, Richmondshire district council and the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority.

The resulting row has drawn in the chancellor of the exchequer and the archbishop of Canterbury.

Rishi Sunak has urged church leaders to reconsider the sale of Arkengarthdale Church of England primary school, and members of the community have demanded the intervention of Justin Welby. But the diocese of Leeds and the parish vicar say their hands are legally tied, even though a C of E commission is investigating ways the church can help tackle the housing crisis – including by building affordable housing on its surplus land.

Sunak, the MP for Richmond, said he was disappointed by the sale to a higher bidder. In a letter to the PCC asking it to reconsider the trust’s offer, he said: “The trust’s mission to provide affordable homes for rent in the Yorkshire dales is an important one for the future sustainability of these rural communities which we are all proud to serve.”

A few years ago Hereford CLT had discussions with the Church Commissioners regarding their land at Three Elms for which they were seeking planning permission and were informed that the Commissioners would have to see ‘best value’ Essentially that means the highest price, though with some small wriggle room for what a CLT could bring to the table as against A.N. Other property developer in terms of management of open space, community involvement, and so forth.

For the full story about the school: www.theguardian.com/society/2020/aug/26/rishi-sunak-and-archbishop-drawn-into-yorkshire-dales-housing-row

HCLT response to Consultation on Affordable Housing

HCLT has responded to Herefordshire Council’s consultation on Affordable Housing which will form part of a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD). Our response can be accessed here: SPD response final

The current SPD needs to be revised and updated as a result of the 2019 changes within the National Planning Policy Framework. A dedicated Affordable Housing SPD will support and offer guidance on the different types of affordable housing that is required within the county to meet the needs of Herefordshire’s community. Once adopted it will be a material consideration in the determination of planning applications.

HCLT support the Council’s SPD but have suggested a number of changes to increase the number of affordable homes being built as well as improving their quality. Some of the main points that we made are:

  1. Recognition of CLTs to help in delivery of affordable housing
  2.  Encouragement of provision of affordable homes in town centres
  3.  Council to provide list of small sites (< I ha) which are targeted to provide 10% of housing
  4.  More control over larger developments to ensure that 10% of homes are in the affordable category
  5.  More encouragement of walking and cycling and use of public transport for residents of affordable housing developments

 

 

Homes at the Heart – launch letter

The National Housing Federation has launched a campaign to invest in social housing, supported by a wide cross-section of housing sector.
Here is an open letter they have sent to the Government.


Dear Chancellor
We are writing to urge you to put good quality, affordable housing at the heart of your plans for social and economic recovery from the coronavirus crisis.
This pandemic has transformed our relationship with our homes. For some, home has been a sanctuary from a dangerous and unpredictable virus. Home has become their office, a classroom, a gym or a place of worship. But for countless others, the place they have spent lockdown has felt like a prison – housing that is far too small, too expensive, of poor quality or isolated from the support that would help them to live well.
The coronavirus crisis is further highlighting the need for secure, high quality, better designed affordable homes and, for many people, support to live in them. Not least for many of the people most affected by this crisis – low-paid key workers living in homes they can’t afford, rough sleepers helped off the streets, homeless families in temporary accommodation, older people in unsupported homes, and families stuck in overcrowded conditions.
Without action, we are likely to see many people’s housing situations get much worse in the weeks, months and years ahead, as the economic impacts of the crisis are felt across the country.
In times of crisis, the worth of social housing is ever more visible and to so many of the challenges that lie ahead, social housing is the answer. The social housing sector stands ready to play a major role in shoring up the future of the country.

• Public investment in all types of new and existing social housing gives more back to the economy than it takes.
• Building and improving social homes, including delivering on the decarbonisation agenda, creates jobs, kick-starts growth and brings huge environmental benefits.
• Investing in supporting people to live well in their social homes improves health and wellbeing, and drives cost savings for the NHS.
• Social housing is at the centre of thriving communities.

That is why we support the Homes at the Heart campaign.
As you develop and deliver plans to get the country back on track, we are calling on the government to put social homes at the heart of recovery – as a driver of economic and social prosperity, and an anchor for strong communities.

More details on https://www.housing.org.uk/HomesAtTheHeart

After the Plague – Better Housing?

Within a week of the 1666 Great Fire of London, Christopher Wren had presented his master plan for rebuilding the City to King Charles II. It will come as no surprise that little of Wren’s scheme, apart from the widening of some main streets, was ever implemented.
What are the lessons of Covid-19 and will we see any changes as a result? Firstly, there is an observed correlation between overcrowding and deaths and it would seem reasonable to ask that local governments use their powers to tackle abuses and that central government ensures that legislation protects the vulnerable. Secondly, home is very much more than a place to sleep and we need to build homes that have enough room to live in for long periods. Thirdly, we all need access to sunlight and fresh air. Homes need open spaces – a balcony or a patio should be the minimum standard for all new homes.
But will this happen? Although Wren’s masterplan didn’t see the light of day, building standards were greatly improved and many wonderful churches, still standing today, rose from the ashes. And Wren’s blueprints were eventually used, in modified form, in the building of the Washington, capital of the USA.
HCLT are committed to building dwellings that enhance people’s lives through good design and high energy efficiency. We are confident that anything that we build will meet tomorrow’s needs.

Emerging from Covid-19 – what happens next?

Despite lockdown, HCLT has being pushing ahead with its mission to find suitable sites to build affordable, sustainable homes in Hereford. As the restrictions ease and the focus turns to restarting the economy, it is a good time to recap on the benefits that the CLT approach brings to society.
The Co-Chief Executive of National Community Land Trust Network has just published a blog setting forward her vision for the CLT movement – building truly affordable, decent homes for local heroes by engaging with the community and using scraps of land that other developers believe to be unviable. We couldn’t agree more.

http://www.communitylandtrusts.org.uk/article/2020/5/13/co-ce-a-role-for-the-movement-in-the-post-covid-economic-recovery

Date for your diaries – the Future of the High Street

The Future of the High Street –  a Left Bank Village Event
Date for your diaries – Wednesday 17 June 2020 7.30pm on the Left Bank talks web-site, the second in the series “High Town and beyond” where there will be discussions on the high street as not just an economic retail area but also as a vital invaluable social hub. Some say the High Street is on the way out. Shall we just take the path of least resistance, let it succumb to its fate and see where that gets us? Or, shall we get together and think about what we can do instead…More details will be published on: https://hgnetwork.org/left-bank-talks-and-discussion-evenings-coming-up-4/
In the wake of the recent announcement that the Council has agreed to buy Maylord Shopping Centre, the event promises to be an interesting evening.
The first talk, which was held on 6th  May was well attended, with an interesting and thoughtful presentation – see High Street – NH V1

HCLT is finalising a study of the historic buildings in the City centre, which we hope to make available shortly

Happy Birthday NCLT

2020 marks the ten year anniversary for the National CLT Network, the central organisation for the 300 CLTS across England and Wales.
CLTs have succeeded  in villages, towns and cities, working with housing associations, developers, councils or alone, blending community ownership, cohousing and custom build, resulting in 500 new homes being built, with a further 23,000 more in the pipeline. CLTs have also been active in other areas including  pubs, cafes, sports facilities, workspace, woodlands and even a local brewery.  As an example, see the article on our website featuring Homebaked – a Liverpool café and bakery that has become the heart of a community in the Anfield area of the city.

NCLT’s mission for the next stage of its life is to build a diverse CLT movement, where CLTs are vehicles for communities to meet their needs and to thrive. To succeed NCLT, the enabler hubs that support regional initiatives and local CLTs themselves need funding. In March, the Government’s budget made no announcement about the future of the Community Housing Fund, ‘CHF’,  a £60 million grant programme that provided vital support for Local Authorities to promote community projects, partly through CLTs. Without this important funding source, many CLT projects are now at risk.

Hereford CLT, like many other CLTs, have being lobbying their MPs for the CHF to continue. We recently met Jesse Norman who is Financial Secretary to the Treasury with  responsibility among other things for tax policy and administration, customs and infrastructure investment. He has no remit over housing, which is handled by the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government. Jesse told us that the recent Budget’s focus was for understandable reasons on Coronavirus and its effects on the UK economy and on delivering on election manifesto promises. He was hopeful that Ministers would make a statement on the continuation of the Community Housing Fund shortly.

We all support the focus on supressing Covid-19 and mitigating its wide ranging impact across our country. Hereford CLT looks forward to the time when we will return to the focus on building better communities through, among other things, affordable and sustainable housing.

 

 

 

 

 

What’s the point of the Green Belt?

Phineas Harper, writing in ICON magazine, reviews the history and makes the case for green belts around cities. His brief history starts with an idea in 1829 to create 4 concentric circles of urban area and “breathing spaces” around London. Unsurprisingly enough this didn’t happen, but the concept was adapted in new cities in Australia and the USA.
His argument that every urban space needs to have a boundary to prevent urban sprawl, citing the success of three cities that are constrained – Venice, New York and Shibam in the Yemen. He disputes the assertion that the UK green belt drive up the cost of land by arguing that developers, who limit the release of new houses, are themselves limiting supply.
The full article is available  on this link: https://www.iconeye.com/architecture/features/item/13587-every-city-needs-an-ending-the-story-of-the-green-belt

Community Land Trusts – a success story from Liverpool

‘We don’t want to sit back and accept things being done to us. We say stop, say no, and change the situation for the better.’

This quote, from a member of the Homebaked CLT steering group, is the key to the contribution that CLTs are making to their local communities.

Homebaked Community Land Trust was born in April 2012 with the aim of refurbishing the closed Mitchell’s bakery building to provide workspace for social enterprise and affordable housing in area near Liverpool FC’s Anfield stadium. The building, like much of the local area, was in 2010 designated to be demolished under the Housing Market Renewal Initiative (HMRI), a controversial urban regeneration scheme which envisaged large scale demolition of housing. In Anfield, the planned HMRI was to be the biggest loss of housing and commercial properties in the country, with 1,800 lost homes and spaces to work.

The initial project that Homebaked grew from, initiated by artist Jeanne van Heeswijk and supported by the Liverpool Biennial Art Festival asked how the local community could take matters into their own hands regarding the development of their neighbourhood and a common future.

From this Homebaked CLT started on a process of designing, planning and learning together with the local community; a project named ‘Build your own High Street.’ This project has grown from the model of the bakery, and proposes a larger scheme of community-led development and regeneration of the land adjacent to our building, providing workspace for social enterprise, long-term affordable housing, and communal outdoor space.

The Cafe and Bakery, which employs 18 people and spends approximately £130K per year with local suppliers, has become a hub for the different communities in the area, as well as visitors. The cafe is open 6 days a week, employing local people and paying a living wage. The bakery has a wholesale and catering business and trains local people.

Visit their website for more details: http://homebaked.org.uk/about