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Community Housing options


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workshop delivered at SMART event …

workshop delivered at SMART event
please note this presentation was delivered as speaker support material and is intended for reference by attendees not for use as a stand-alone resource

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  • 1. Community Housing Options Workshop Agenda (1 Hour Time Limit)1. Welcome and introductions (Henry - 5 mins)2. Outline of Community Land Trusts (Barry - 5 mins) The type of community housing options the workshop will focus on are what come under the broad umbrella title of Community Land Trusts or CLTs. In essence, CLTs are community based organisations run by volunteers that develop housing or other assets for the benefit of the community concerned. It is a cost-driven model, where the CLT ensures that the occupiers to pay for the use of buildings and services at prices they can afford. The difference between the cost of the home or asset and the market value are permanently locked in by the CLT who holds the asset or equity in trust for long-term community benefit. It is a model that originated in the USA and which is being increasingly adopted here in the UK. The model is well established in Scotland where, for example, in 1997 the inhabitants of the Isle of Eigg’s became pioneers in land reform by buying the island from absentee landlords, thereby giving islanders control of their future for the first time. Since the buy out, Eigg now has the first completely wind, water and sun-powered electricity grid in the world. Scotland now has a great number and variety of CLTs and the model is underpinned by a legal framework and financial and practical support. 1
  • 2. The model is less advanced in the rest of the UK but it is gradually speading with more and more community affordable housing projects being set up, most notably in Cornwall, where locals are priced out of their local communities due to the impact on property values of incomers and the growth in second and holiday home ownership. Northumberland is another notable area of activity where the Lindisfarne Community Development Trust became the first CLT in England to obtain a Government grant to help pay for an affordable housing development for local people. The current Housing Minister, Grant Schapps, has repeatedly professed his admiration for the CLT model, even suggesting while still in opposition that they could be the answer to Britain’s housing crisis. That might be stretching it a bit far but here at Norfolk RCC we believe there is a significant role for them in meeting housing need in our rural communities.3. Explanation of background housing situation nationally and locally via statistics (Henry - 10 mins) What is the problem? Well, in short, there is a general shortage of available housing, especially in rural areas, so local people often find themselves priced out of their local housing market, forcing them to move away. The main reasons for this include: • a general decline in house building since the late 1960s (chart); 2
  • 3. • the loss of former council houses sold under ‘Right to Buy’ and the failure to replace them;• relatively low rural incomes; 3
  • 4. • increased demand and prices due to wealthier people moving to the countryside from urban areas;and,• significant levels of second and holiday home ownership which, to some extent, can be approximated in empty homes figures. As you will note, there are currently estimated to be over 12,000 properties in Norfolk that are not permanently occupied and just under 4,500 that have been empty for more than 6 months. 4
  • 5. As a result, it is fairly typical to find that average propertyprices in rural Norfolk are such as to require a mortgage theequivalent of 10 times the average rural income. In someareas with very high levels of second and holiday homeownership, such as on the North Norfolk coast, the ratio ofproperty prices to local incomes is substantially higher still.Thus, home ownership is clearly not an option for many andthe lack of rental alternatives, affordable or otherwise, leaveslittle option but to look elsewhere.Reflecting this situation, the number of households on DistrictCouncil Housing Registers in England have been steadilyincreasing and are up around 80% from 1,021,664 in 1997 to1,837,042 in 2011 (chart).The increase is even more dramatic in Norfolk where thenumbers have trebled from 10,368 in 1997 to 31,107 in 2011(chart). 5
  • 6. It should be noted that these figures relate to householdsrather than individuals and don’t include those waiting fortransfers.Clearly, traditional housing development is not meeting thehousing need and with population projected to carry onincreasing by over 100,000 households over the next 20 yearsor so (chart) 6
  • 7. the problem looks set to keep getting worse….unless, perhaps, communities can do something about it. In a moment we will be highlighting a couple of options communities could potentially pursue to provide affordable housing for local people and thereby help stave off or even reverse the spiral of decline. Before we get to that though, what do people see as the main implications of the situation for communities and individual households?4. Feedback from participants re implications of housing situation for rural communities and households (Barry - 5 mins) Points could/should include: • Forcing local people, especially younger people, to move away • Elderly and vulnerable no longer able to rely on care and support from family members 7
  • 8. • More difficult for local schools, POs, shops and other businesses and services to remain viable due to loss of customers/users and potential staff • Social networks and community cohesion suffers • People forced into living in overcrowded, insecure and/or substandard conditions • Health problems due to overcrowding, damp and disrepair • Children with no room to play or study adversely affecting life chances • Homelessness5. Outline of some Community Housing Trust type options a) 2nd homes model (eg. Homes For Wells) (Barry - 5 mins) This model was initially based on finding absentee owners of second and holiday homes who were willing to let their properties to local tenants at affordable rents and then matching up landlords and tenants. It was set up in such a way that it could simply provide owners with a tenant finding service or it could include a property lettings/management service too if that’s what owners preferred. As seen in the empty homes charts, we are potentially talking about significant numbers of properties that could be brought back into use. The model can also extend to property development, by utilising existing empty homes and other properties and surplus land for local lettings. For example, larger houses could be turned into several flats and larger gardens could be built on. Norfolk RCC currently has a project roughly following the Homes For Wells model by looking to extend it to other areas where there are high levels of second and holiday home ownership. 8
  • 9. b) Poor’s Trusts (Henry - 5 mins) A key issue with CLT type housing schemes is how they are financed. Typically the finance will be a combination of grants, loans and subsidy. One way to help make community housing schemes affordable is by securing development land at low, or no, price. Norfolk RCC is just about to roll out a project that will aim to utilise Poor’s Trust/ Relief Charity land holdings that exist in pretty much every parish. These Poor’s Trusts were set up at the time of the Land Enclosures, mostly between about 1760 and 1820. Basically, wealthy landowners gained possession of public or common land through individual Acts of Enclosure covering one or more parishes. As part of each Act of Enclosure there was usually a requirement to set aside some land for the benefit of the poor. In effect, the Acts set of parish level trusts to administer the Poor’s Land, typically (but not exclusively) by renting it out and using the income to provide fuel or alms for the poor of the parish. Nowadays, the majority of Poor’s Trusts seem to generate very little income (some as little as £30 or £40 per year) and, with the advent of the modern welfare state, they often struggle to identify poor people to distribute whatever fuel or funds they do generate. Therefore, they often aren’t really able to fulfill very effectively what we would now term their charitable purposes. We at Norfolk RCC saw an opportunity to help some of them to help the modern poor of the parish by either converting them to CLTs or by making the Poor’s Land available to a purpose built CLT to provide affordable housing for local people who may otherwise be forced to move away.c) Ashwellthorpe scheme (Barry - 5 mins) 9
  • 10. This model was based on subsidy from market housing – insert Barry’s piece6. Exercise (Henry - 10 mins) There are certain fundamental issues that any community housing solution is likely to involve so how do you think communities could go about the following? (some suggested answers in red) • Getting people involved to drive the project forward (ie. set up a Community Housing Trust type organisation) – raise with PC, identify who is already active in community, who is interested in issue, who works in housing/property/planning and/or who has relevant skills (development, finance, project management, etc) • Identifying local housing need – see if anyone knows of anyone who needs local housing, ask whoever runs LA housing register for info re people who have expressed an interest in local housing, do survey (always) • Finding/securing suitable properties/land – identify local property owners (especially absentees) and landowners, including poors/relief charities, with aim of securing properties/land cheaply or even free, requires having some understand of land suitability both for development and planning purposes • Undertaking development – DIY, employ developer such as Housing Association • Obtaining development funding, where needed - HCA, other grant providers, loans, land/property sales • Getting planning permission, if required - basically become familiar with planning rules or (consult/employ someone who is) and consult LA planning dept, under Localism Act communities may be able to give planning approval via majority vote in local ballot 10
  • 11. • Dealing with objectors/objections (try to anticipate the sorts of objections that could arise and possible responses) – need to try to keep people happy as far as possible but ultimately the only objections that count relate to planning policies, rules and regulations • Setting rents/prices – need to be below market level (80% or less) • Deciding who gets the properties – fair/transparent allocations policy and procedures • Ensuring they are retained for local people in perpetuity – rules preventing outright purchase and sale of share to non- locals or transfers to non-locals • Managing and maintaining rental properties – DIY or employ staff/contractor Please note that Norfolk RCC can now offer guidance and support on these sorts of issues.7. Questions and close (Barry - 10 mins) At end, invite participants to contact Norfolk RCC (put number on flipchart agenda) if they or anyone they know may be interested in setting up a local housing trust to meet local need. 11