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Herefordshire Community Land Trust
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HCLT in the news

Herefordshire Green Network posted a profile of HCLT on their website last week – see link: https://hgnetwork.org/focus-on-hereford-community-land-trust/

Herefordshire Green Network has grown out of grass-roots action, and its local significance is due to the respected grass-roots activity of its Members.
HGN is a lightly constituted, not-for-profit organisation whose vision is a resilient low carbon future in Herefordshire. It works to encourage environmental sustainability through collaboration, inspiration and activity. More information on https://hgnetwork.org.

 

Ever Lived in a Community Housing Scheme?

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has commissioned research from the London School of Economics and the universities of Bristol, Lancaster and Northumbria into whether community-led housing plays a role in combating loneliness. As part of this research, they are conducting an online survey of individuals involved in CLH, which will gather information about how residents and members interact, and about respondents’ experience of neighbourliness and loneliness. Findings will feed into decisions about whether and how central government should support community-led housing. This is a unique opportunity to improve government understanding of these housing alternative models, and we encourage everyone who is eligible to take part.

They would like to hear from anyone who:

– currently lives in any form of community-led housing
– has ever lived in community-led housing—even if they don’t any more
– is involved with a CLH group but doesn’t live there
– used to be involved with a CLH group—even if they aren’t any more.

You can take the survey, and read more details about the research, here:

Can community-led housing tackle loneliness?

Part L of Future Homes Standard – Part Ly a backward step?

Consultation on the government’s proposed changes to building regulations, as part of the journey to a net zero economy in 2050, has recently closed. A number of architectural and consultancy bodies including RIBA , CIBSE and the Passivhaus Trust have been critical of the suggested changes to Part L, which deals with energy efficiency. What are these objections?
o Firstly, the proposals focus on the carbon emissions during occupancy. As carbon usage can be cut by moving to more efficient heating systems, such as air-source heat pumps and that electricity generation carbon emissions will continue to fall as we move to renewable sources, this means that less attention is being paid to building a well-insulated house, which can, paradoxically mean that a house built next year could be less efficient that under the current 2013 regulations.
See full explanation prepared by the London Energy Transformation Initiative: https://b80d7a04-1c28-45e2-b904-e0715cface93.filesusr.com/ugd/252d09_47446f98183f4cbe9ca238772db24578.pdf

o Secondly, if the government is serious about moving to zero carbon by 2050, urgent action is needed now. This is particularly important in the housing sector for 2 reasons; 1) only a small proportion of the UK’s housing stock is built every year so it is important to reach the higher standards sooner rather than later. There are increased costs in building houses that are energy efficient but it costs 5 times as much to retrofit an existing building as it does to build at a higher standard initially; 2) the construction trades are slow to adapt to change and will ask for more time. There are examples of volume developers exploiting loopholes in existing regulations by building to standards that applied when they broke ground, which on large sites can be many years before the last houses are completed

o Finally, the proposed regulations take away the powers that local authorities have to require construction to a higher standard than the minimum national standards. This levelling-down sits oddly with the philosophy of localism that is needed to bring communities together.

HCLT is committed to building energy efficient houses to be truly affordable to people who live and work in Hereford. We believe in building to the highest standards to ensure all our future occupants can live without the fear of fuel poverty.

Meeting with Jesse Norman MP

Last month Jeff and Huw had a meeting with our MP to update him on our activities, understand his view on CLTs and ask for an update on the status of the Government’s Community Housing Fund, CHF, which is a matter of great importance not just to us but CLTs in Herefordshire and nationally.

Mr Norman informed us he was enthusiastic about community-led initiatives, including CLTs; would be willing to assist on specific HCLT projects when required; and stated that although there was no mention of the CHF in the budget, this was because priority was given to coronavirus measures. A statement on the continuation of CHF would be made in due course.

Bunker Hill Co-operative Self-Build Project

Andy Johnson visited Bunker Hill Co-operative Self-Build project in Brighton in consort with Brighton and Hove CLT.

 

I met with Martyn Holmes from Bunker Hill on site. He is happy to maintain contact (bunkerselfbuild@gmail.com), and would like to hear how HCLT gets on in future. (He’s doing a PhD on community development.)

The site is that of an ex council-owned garage block which is being let to Bunker Hill Co-op on a 125-year lease (they are negotiating to up this to a 250-year lease as that will allow them to get improved terms for long term funding). They pay a rent of £250 a year to the council for the lease.

The present scheme is their first, though they are progressing towards a couple of other small schemes.

As the site had already been earmarked for housing by the council, they did widespread consultation with the neighbours and two local community associations (apparently the two do not get on with each other) prior to submitting their application for pre-planning advice. Everyone has seemed happy with the scheme as a result. One of their biggest costs involved digging into the back of the site (it’s in a hilly part of Brighton) and shoring up the neighbouring ground with about an 8 foot high retaining wall, and part of the deal with neighbours is that they will replace all the adjoining fencing to the site on completion of the main building works.

The scheme is just for two houses (nos 18 & 20 Plumpton Road, Brighton BN2 9YL), each to be occupied by a family, with three bedrooms. Elements of Lifetime homes standards have been included in terms of groundfloor bathroom access (wet rooms) and turning spaces for wheelchairs.

One of the surprises was that it’s not really self-build. One of the families includes an electrician and one a painter and decorator, but in effect they project manage the development, employing contractors to do the work. The design features prefabricated pods which were delivered from Germany on several lorries, one crane being required to lift the pods into the site and another to then place them either onto foundations and concrete bases which had been constructed in preparation or onto each other (the site has a narrow access lane.)

The pods are then finished externally and internally. The pods are essentially of timber, but well insulated, with a cement screed or timber external finish (as per the photo of the outside). Fire regulations have been satisfied with the fitting of a sprinkler system. The houses are built to passivhaus standards but without going for the additional cost of certification as the houses will be rented out and the cost of certification can only be recouped in sale values. They discussed providing ground source heat pumps for heating, but the pod providers (I can’t recall their name and Martyn talked fast!) said they thought they wouldn’t be required, and in any event it was best to first see how the pods performed in their actual location. Bunker Hill have done a deal with a local green energy co-op whereby their electrical generation equipment will be provided by the energy co-op who can use the site to test and modernise equipment, meaning there is no liability for the equipment itself by Bunker Hill. There will be an additional charge on top of the rent, which should be close to the Local Housing Allowance level, to cover electricity costs.

Each house has a small patio garden, and there is a small communal area of garden as well.

They had a £32,000 grant from Brighton and Hove’s overall allocation under the first stage of the Community Housing Fund which covered their pre-development costs. Roughly 30% of the cost of construction is being covered by inter co-op loan stock at a low rate of interest (circa 1% for 5 years I think), the balance by a commercial loan from the Ecology Building Society at 4.5%. They are discussing with Brighton & Hove council obtaining a just under 1-year loan from the public works loan board which can be obtained at 0% (if under a 1 year period), and looking to see if they could refinance the Ecology Building Society loan through that as well, for a 50-year loan at 3%.

Their agreement with the council is that everyone housed by the co-op must qualify for affordable/social housing in terms of income levels, local connections etc, but that the co-op can decide who to house in the first instance. Thereafter, 50% of any vacancies must come from the council’s own waiting list, but the co-op can interview nominees and only accept those who meet the co-op’s own criteria for joining in with the co-op’s ethos and helping run the co-op.

Once the houses are up and running, they want to move to a model where everyone pays a % of their income as rent, thus meaning that people don’t have to leave, and those that earn more contribute to funds which can help build more houses.

Andy Johnson
24 Feb 2020

Hereford Times article 5th March 2020

Trusts have issued a plea to government to save their plans for affordable homes in Herefordshire.

By Charlotte Moreau

Fownhope Community Land Trust and Hereford Community Land Trust, two community driven organisations whose aim is to build sustainable and genuinely affordable homes in their respective neighbourhoods, fear their plans could be put on hold if the government doesn’t renew a national funding programme.

The £163m Community Housing Fund opened for bids in July 2018 to fund housing projects managed specifically by community groups, such as Fownhope and Hereford CLTs. Community led housing is a growing sector and in just two years the Fund has sparked proposals for over 16,600 homes.

But after just 18 months the Fund is no longer open to bids. The community led housing sector, which the Conservative Party committed to back in its general election manifesto, is campaigning for the Fund to be renewed for a further five years in the Spring Budget on 11 March. Both Fownhope and Hereford CLTs have written to their respective MPs, Bill Wiggin and Jesse Norman asking for their assistance.

Fownhope CLT was only formed in June 2019 and is just exploring possibilities that could need such funding if they are to be successful.

Hereford CLT, founded in 2017 is working with the Herefordshire Council, a Local Housing Association and a private landowner to find sites in the City of Hereford suitable for developing community housing.

Catherine Harrington, Co-Chief Executive of the National Community Land Trust Network, said:
“Housing projects like that of local housing groups are so important. In many cases these are homes that would never be built by a traditional housebuilder, maybe because the project isn’t profitable enough or it’s on a difficult plot of land. Community led housing groups aren’t put off by things like that: what’s important to them is building the right kind of housing that local people can actually afford. That’s why the government must renew the Fund for a further five years”.

Unison Report on Safe, Decent, Affordable Homes

Trade Union Unison has produced a well-researched report on England’s housing problems.
Key Conclusions:

  •  More new, good quality council and social rented homes
  •  A new definition of affordable housing, linked to people’s incomes rather than market rents
  •  Protection for social rented housing stock
  •  An overhaul to the welfare system, to provide families with adequate support
  •  An overhaul to regeneration schemes
  •  New standards and consumer redress, to give a voice to social tenants
  •  New regulations to make renting stable and affordable

www.unison.org.uk/at-work/community/key-issues/housing/unisons-housing-manifesto/

 

To start to address this, we need to build 150,000 homes for social rent. People on modest incomes need decent and affordable homes – CLTs, like HCLT can play a role in this.

Home Ownership – “An Impossible Dream” – Santander

Research by Santander show that the house price inflation has far outstripped the growth in net income, particularly those in the 25-34 age bracket

https://www.santander.co.uk/assets/s3fs-public/documents/santander-first-time-buyer-study.pdf

As a result,  70% of first time buyers believe that home ownership is now an impossible dream.

 

Affordable Housing Built On Public Land Isn’t Happening – New Economics Foundation

For almost a decade, the government has been selling off public land; hospitals, prisons and ministry of defence land. The current five-year programme has the dual aim of releasing enough land for 160,000 homes by 2020, and raising £5 billion in capital receipts.
Ostensibly, the aim of the programme was to help solve the housing crisis. But the government has shown scant interest in the types of homes being built. Solving the housing crisis requires building millions of new homes, but the crux of the crisis is in the affordability of the homes.
Research by the New Economics Foundation, a left leaning think tank, found that:
• While the government has sold enough public land for developers to build 131,000 homes, only 2.6% of those homes will be for social rent.
• 15% of homes built on public land will be classified as ‘affordable housing’, which is a highly elastic term, including shared ownership schemes, which are accessible to those earning £80,000 a year in London.
So even under the most generous interpretation, less than one new home in five that is built on public land will be “affordable”
See link to report here:
https://neweconomics.org/2020/02/sold-off-public-land-is-creating-minuscule-amounts-of-affordable-housing

BBC Housing Briefing

BBC Briefing on Housing
A 185 page report on housing in the UK – see http://news.files.bbci.co.uk/include/newsspec/pdfs/bbc-briefing-housing-newsspec-26534.pdf

Extract on Affordable Housing
The building rate is increasing, but only a small proportion of new dwellings are affordable (that is, housing subsidised by government or its agencies for people who cannot afford market rates). Despite 240,000 net additions in England in 2018-19, only 37,800 affordable homes were built
• It is more profitable for private housebuilders to construct higher-end properties than affordable homes
• Analysis by Shelter showed 79% fewer affordable homes were being built in England, with developers able to negotiate their way out of requirements under the planning system to meet affordability housing quotas