East London Community Land Trusts' new site at St Clements, Tower Hamlets, where a two bed home costs half the local average.

In two years, communities have worked together to build hundreds of permanently affordable homes. But policy changes could put Community Land Trusts (CLTs) at risk.

The UK faces a housing crisis. In major cities rents are soaring, even while other regions are blighted by rows of empty properties and a lack of investment.

We need 250,000 new homes every year just to keep up with need – but last year, just half that figure were actually built.

Last year we told you about a new model that’s turning Britain’s broken housing market upside down.

Instead of waiting for the Government to act, communities across the country are taking matters into their own hands and setting up Community Land Trusts (CLTs). These are based on the radical idea that homes should be permanently affordable, based on what local people earn rather than inflated market prices.

The East London Community Land Trust operates on the principal that housing shouldn’t cost more than a third of median local income, so a two-bedroom flat costs just £181,111, compared to the £500,000 local average for Tower Hamlets.

It’s an idea that’s catching on. There are now over 225 CLTs in England and Wales. Together, they’ve developed more than 700 permanently affordable homes, with a further 3000 in the pipeline to build by 2020.

But just as the model takes off, the Government is putting CLTs at risk.

Whether by accident or by design, upcoming Government policy changes could well stifle the creation of new community land trusts, as well as making it harder for existing ones to continue in their current form.

We believe that community-led housing plays an increasingly vital role in solving the housing crisis. But it can only do so with the right support. People priced out of their homes with extortionate rents deserve decent homes now – they can’t afford to wait for this Government to get its act together.

How government plans could stop Community Housing in its tracks

Working with the National Community Land Trust Network, we’re asking for the Government to address three key concerns:

One-size-fits-all changes in regulation

A key feature of the CLT model is that homes are permanently affordable, and leaseholds are commonly used by CLTs as a means of ensuring this.

The Government recently announced plans to ban the sale of future homes as leasehold, in a welcome attempt to crack down unfair practices by exploitative developers. But the plans fail to take into account community-led and co-operative housing.

Unless CLTs and co-operative housing are made exempt from the Government’s one-size-fits-all proposals, there’s nothing to protect the long term affordability of community-led homes.

Squeezing off funding

In 2016, the government announced a £300m fund to kick start the community-led development of 13,000 affordable new homes.

This fund could be a real game changer – but since June’s snap General Election, the Government has been worryingly quiet on whether or not they’ll follow through.

The government must keep its promise, and commit to at least the next five years of funding.

Right to Buy

The so-called-voluntary Right to Buy which the government extended to housing associations makes the future for many CLTs uncertain. While the government has offered “discretion” for housing associations to decline a sale when homes are held in a CLT, this doesn’t go far enough in providing the certainty that CLTs need.

The government must commit to excluding all CLTs from the voluntary Right to Buy.