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What are Community Land Trusts (CLTs)

Community Land Trusts (CLTs) are a form of community-led housing. The CLT acquires land through purchase (by the community) or a gift, and oversees the development of affordable housing to buy or rent. The housing remains affordable in perpetuity – the CLT is a not-for-profit group and acts as a long-term steward of the homes built.

The development of the sector

The Labour Government included a statutory definition of CLTs in the Housing and Regeneration Act 2008. CLTs were viewed as a possible model for delivering affordable housing. A Government-led pilot scheme and a consultation led to the conclusion in 2009 that CLTs did have a future role to play, and awarded Carnegie UK £500,000 to develop the sector. This was to involve better training for practitioners, developing turnkey packages and facilitating community groups’ access to finance.

Governments since 2010 have indicated their support for CLTs. The Localism Act 2011, passed by the Coalition Government, introduced the Community Right to Build and Community Right to Bid which were made available to CLTs. These measures allowed communities to bypass normal planning permissions, subject to a local referendum, and gave community groups the first opportunity to buy assets of value to them.

CLTs have also been given access to various sources of funding. Some of these have been specifically aimed at community-led projects, particularly to support applications under the Community Right to Bid. The £60 million Community Housing Fund was offered in areas with high levels of second home ownership and aimed to develop the local community-led housing sector.

Both the Coalition and Conservative Governments encouraged CLTs to apply for assistance under various Affordable Homes Programmes. CLTs can also apply for a loan via the Home Building Fund launched in October 2016, which is available to any private sector housing provider.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

CLTs can take advantage of a Community Right to Bid scheme in Scotland which also allows, in some cases, community groups to purchase neglected land that does not have a willing seller. More information can be found on the Scottish Government’s website on Community Right to Buy and on the website of Community Land Scotland.

Information on the Welsh Government’s support for CLTs can be found in a paper prepared by the Welsh Assembly’s Research Service, Community Land Trusts: Quick Guide (2010).

CLTs are not currently a major feature of the Northern Ireland house-building market. However a Community Asset Transfer Routemap has been developed and a new process put in place from 2017 whereby all surplus central government assets are now placed into a central repository. The NI Government hopes to market these assets to local communities.

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