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Government urged to act over community-led homes

Words: Laura Edgar
Community / Shutterstock: 144653342

The National Community Land Trust Network has called on the government to extend the Community Housing Fund outside London in the Spending Review.

The call comes after a Freedom of Information (FOI) suggested that a government grant to help deliver thousands of high-quality, affordable, community-led homes is set to close before the majority can be built.

It shows that 56 projects are set to deliver 3,546 homes but are likely to stall if the government doesn’t extend the £163 million Community Housing Fund. It was created to support the growth of the community-led housing sector, but is due to close in December 2019, 17 months after opening.

In January, Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, launched a £38 million fund for community-led housing. Bids are being taken March 2023, with an online prospectus published by City Hall providing guidance for community groups who wish to bid, which the network says is “ample time” to complete housing developments.

The network is calling on the government to extend the fund outside London in the Spending Review. It says it has received cross-party support from Sir Oliver Letwin and other Conservatives, as well as Labour, Lib Dem and Green MPs.

Tom Chance, director of the National Community-Land Trust Network, said it would be a terrible waste to scupper communities' plans by closing the fund after only 17 months.

“The uncertainty around Brexit is having a knock-on effect on domestic issues. The government says it is committed to fixing the broken housing market but this will only happen if the programmes put in place to provide solutions are given time to make their mark.

“To make sure these homes don’t remain on the drawing board and for community-led housing to become a self-sustaining sector with a lasting legacy, the government must extend the fund past 2020 and ideally for the duration of the next Spending Review.”

Alan McInnes, chairman of Herstmonceux Community Land Trust in East Sussex, explained: “Herstmonceux CLT is building 19 homes for local need to retain young and older residents in our rural parish. It has taken time to get to this point and we are now in a race against time to resolve technical, environmental and planning matters with our site in order to commence construction before the Community Housing Fund closes.

“We are relying on this grant funding. Surely, as the desperate need for economic housing has been acknowledged by government and grant aid identified, there should be a means to extend the deadline. Otherwise, the effort and initial grants raised may be wasted.”

Read more:

Community-led housing fund launched in London

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