Communities encouraged to consider setting up own housing schemes during Rural Housing Week

Rural communities across Chichester District are being encouraged to think about creating their own affordable housing schemes during Rural Housing Week which runs 3 - 7 July.

Several areas in Chichester District are already on the road to creating their own schemes for people with a strong local connection in order to tackle affordability issues in their villages.

Rogate and Midhurst are two of the places that are working towards setting up a Community Land Trust (CLT). A Community Land Trust is a not-for-profit organisation and allows people to buy land or unused buildings in their area so they can create genuinely affordable homes for people with a strong connection to the area.

A CLT is able to set its own terms and conditions, have a say in what sort of housing is provided and who can live there. The benefits include permanent local ownership, control and accountability at a very local level.

There are more than 170 CLTs across the country which have already built or are in the process of completing similar schemes, either by themselves or working in partnership with other housing providers.

Adrian Moore, who is on the steering group for the Midhurst project, said: "We were delighted with our first public meeting on 1 June which was attended by over 60 people from the community, and overall there was strong interest and support for the idea.

"The success of our plans will be on our ability to find some suitable inexpensive brown field or agricultural land that we can obtain permission to build on. The public meeting and presentations to other groups in the community have resulted in several ideas and feedback about potential sites, and we are actively following these up. We have been very thankful for the full support from Chichester District Council's housing delivery team and we look forward to working with them as we go forward."

The village of Rogate is in the very early stages of looking to set up a Community Land Trust. Mairi Rennie, says: "As a member of Rogate Parish Council, I am aware of a developing housing crisis in the village. I am also the curator of the Rogate Heritage Centre and very concerned to preserve what I can of the village history. I depend on the memories of the elderly who have spent their lives in the village. In their lifetimes the village has evolved from a contained rural community to a dispersed commuter village, in danger of losing its sense of identity. I see the Community Land Trust as a way of conserving something of the village's cultural heritage. We have just completed a housing needs survey which will establish the need for affordable housing in Rogate, we then hope to move forward to form a Community Land Trust."  

Councillor Jane Kilby, Cabinet Member for Housing at Chichester District Council, says: "We are pleased to be supporting Midhurst and Rogate in their journeys to setting up Community Land Trusts. CLTs are about ordinary people joining together to develop and manage homes for their community.

"There are a range of other ways that communities can help meet local housing needs. Any area of the district that is interested in setting up a local housing scheme is welcome to contact us for more information. We wanted to highlight community-led schemes in the district during Rural Housing Week which aims to draw attention to rural housing issues and the innovative solutions being used to tackle them.

In addition to funding announced last year specifically for Community Land Trusts, Chichester District Council has also been awarded £1.3 million in government funding to help areas set up other types of community-led housing schemes to meet local needs.

Examples of projects include: community-owned rented housing; low-cost housing for sale; housing co-operatives; self-build schemes; co-ownership; and housing for older people. Community schemes can access a wider range of funding opportunities not available to large developers and give communities control over design and affordability.

The council's Housing Delivery Team can help with a wealth of support and advice including access to grants and the steps that people need to take. People interested in finding out about setting up a community-led housing project should contact the council's Rural Housing Enabler, Holly Nicol.

The council has also produced a step-by-step guide for people interested in setting up a Community Land Trust

You can read more information about Community Land Trusts

Date of release: 27 June 2017

Reference: 3730