Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Residents across the country are forming membership groups which buy up or lease plots of land and manage them on behalf of local people

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The Independent Culture

Families unable to afford somewhere to live are clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation in a new trend as communities are forced to find their own ways of solving the British housing crisis.

Residents across the country are forming community land trusts (CLTs), membership groups which buy up or lease plots of land and manage them on behalf of local people. They borrow from councils, government or banks to build new homes for sale to locals, with prices set at rates linked to real local wages rather than their prospective value on the open market. There are 170 such schemes across the UK, expected to build 3,000 new homes by 2020. The homes they build are not only open to members, but could also be offered to those they deem worthy of being allocated an affordable home. Catherine Harrington, director of the National CLT Network, said more people were interested in community trusts after being priced out of their community.

“People are frustrated that there isn’t an affordable option for them but also what’s being built isn’t necessarily the quality of housing that people actually want,” she explained. “This isn’t just about the community making a contribution to housing supply, but it’s also about trying to unlock wider development. Where you have got CLTs involved in a redevelopment they have got through planning in half the time that it usually takes.” In east London, the capital’s first community land trust is working with developers to build 23 homes on a site which will be sold at prices between £140,000 and £285,000, half the price of adjacent properties. In Beer in Devon, a  group has built seven homes, borrowing from lenders and leading the entire process, including design themselves.

 

Yesterday the Conservatives announced plans to make it easier for people to build their own homes. Councils will be forced to help find plots for people seeking to build their own homes as part of a package aimed at providing another 20,000 properties a year.

Rules allowing bigger private extensions to be built without planning permission and making it easier for former offices to be converted to residential use would also be extended to 2020, with the latter to also include warehouses.

Shadow housing minister Emma Reynolds said the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition Government had “presided over the lowest levels of house building in peacetime since the 1920s and home ownership is at its lowest level for 30 years”.

Labour says it will get at least 200,000 homes built a year by 2020.

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