About a year ago, a group of residents came together to try and “kick start” action on the community’s desire, expressed in the 2018 Big Community Survey, to increase the amount of affordable housing locally. We want to create affordable housing in the community, so not all young people and local workers have to move away to find a home of their own.
Housing associations have their place, but over the years have become big, national organisations that rarely work on a local level. Hence the decision to form a Community Land Trust or CLT for Histon and Impington.
So what makes a CLT different?
Our HICLT – a “not for profit” organisation – can obtain grants and loans to purchase land, to hire contractors to build and manage properties of a type that are needed in our community. But, as important, the assets generated will be owned by the community.
CLTs are well placed and adept, given their community membership, to ensure that developments meet the design aspirations of their communities.
So, what does that mean?
Whether it is rent or shared ownership, any profits must be ploughed back into the community; and the CLT is owned by the community. Any person who is 18 and lives or works in the villages can become a member for the price of £1. Members decide how the CLT operates, using their single vote and the only condition is that any decisions have to be for the benefit of the Community as a whole. There is no distribution of profits to members, they are all ploughed back. You’ll get your £1 back if and when you ever ceased to be a member.
Is HICLT just concerned with housing?
Certainly not. HICLT, which will be registered as a charity, is also able to provide associated facilities, amenities and services, for the advancement of health, wellbeing and leisure; and workspace buildings.
How often have you heard people say; “The Community ought to acquire that?”
Well here is a vehicle that can make that happen, where everyone potentially has a say. Too often, the only vehicle available is the Parish Council, which can borrow money from the government and put it on everyone’s council tax bill for twenty-five years. Here is an alternative that can attract grants and donations. Naturally, the HICLT needs to be self-sufficient. In the early days, most of that will come from grants and loans available to CLT’s. However, looking at CLT’s already running just in Cambridgeshire, it does not take many years before they can plough back profits into new community ventures.
Current shadow trustees
The legal set up
HICLT is totally accountable to local people, with rules to ensure that its assets will be owned forever by the community.
It is a Community Benefit Society (CBS) and is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). It will also registered as a charity with HMRC which allows Gift Aid tax relief to be claimed on any donations.
Anyone over 18 who lives or works in the community is able to become a member. Members own a non-transferable £1 share, and do not receive any profits, only voting rights. By joining you can shape HICLT through voting at general meetings on board membership and the adoption of policies.
HICLT is managed currently by a shadow board of trustees pending its inaugural general meeting at which board members will be formally adopted
Any surpluses generated by HICLT must be reinvested in the community.