The verdict of “very simplistic” by Stroud MP David Drew on the Homes and Communities Agency’s handling of the Cashes Green Community Land Trust (CLT) proposal seems fair (13 February, page 23)
The dramatic market collapse has changed the economic equation and “more conventional methods of providing affordable housing”, that is, largely through cross-subsidy by the private sector will no longer work.
The Housing Forum’s report on Land for Housing, to be launched at our National Conference on 1 April, suggests that many of the factors that made traditional registered social landlord (RSL) development seem cheaper were also those that contributed to the market turbulence. Now, RSLs may need nil-cost land, and up to twice previous levels of grant – much the same as CLTs. The current crisis offers an opportunity to break the cycle and develop new thinking rather than return to unsustainable land price inflation and another “bust”.
CLTs have two value-adding advantages: they hold land in trust in perpetuity to eliminate the effects of land price inflation, and they are citizen-led.
The current crisis offers an opportunity to break the cycle and develop new thinking
Our report emphasises the need for community involvement. On its own initiative, this community proposed double the number of homes planned by the NHS, as long as they were genuinely affordable for local people. Community leadership that can create such public value should be cherished, not disempowered by repeating with taxpayers’ money what the community had already done for itself at its own expense.
The government must clarify what value should be placed on public land. The Homes and Communities Agency needs to learn how to unlock new sources of social and economic capital. In Freiburg and Tubingen, German towns that are revered as examples of good practice, citizen-led development has resulted in the sustainable communities that we have found so difficult to achieve with “traditional” land transactions.
Barry Munday, chair, Housing Forum working group, Land for Housing – London; Nicholas Falk, Housing Forum working group, Land for Housing – Stroud