Category Archives: News

Join the call to extend the Community Housing Fund

The National Community Land Trust Network is calling on its members and supporters to campaign for the multi-million Community Housing Fund to be extended beyond 2019/20.

The campaign is for the Fund to be extended so that it can support community-led housing groups and the delivery of truly affordable homes in the way it was intended.

Bids for funding currently need to be in by December 2019. This tight deadline means mean fewer groups than anticipated will benefit from the Fund, jeopardising the number of homes that could be built or brought back into use.

The campaign asks:

  • Extend the Community Housing Fund beyond 2020.
  • Introduce a proportionate system of reistration for Registered Providers intending to provide fewer than 100 homes.
  • Ensure community led housing groups aren’t thwarted by the Right to Buy and leasehold reforms.

Continue reading

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Celebrating Brighton & Hove’s movement for community-led housing

Brighton & Hove Community Land Trust (BHCLT) held its first Annual General Meeting at One Church, Brighton on Wednesday 12 September. The event was also a good chance to celebrate the work of the local housing groups BHCLT has been working with over the past 10 months, as part of the Community-Led Housing Programme, supported by Brighton & Hove City Council (BHCC), through the national Community Housing Fund.

There was a great atmosphere and everyone came together for a shared meal during the evening. We heard more about plans for the CLT over the next six months and how people can get more involved.

We are also pleased to welcome six BHCLT Directors who were elected at the meeting. Re-elected were the four existing Directors: Continue reading

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We’re looking for a part-time administrator

Are you an interested in playing a key role in the development of Community-led Housing in the city?

Part-time Administrator, 1.5 days a week until March 2019.
£200 a day (7.5 hour day) on a self-employed basis.
Deadline: Midnight on Tuesday 4 September 2018

Brighton & Hove Community Land Trust (BHCLT) supports community-led housing (CLH) projects, including co-operatives, cohousing and self-build (whether you are doing it with your own hands or contracting the work out), all developed through local people working together. These projects bring more affordable housing to the city and keep community engagement and consent at the centre of any development. We are working with Co-operative Housing in Brighton & Hove (CHIBAH) and Mutual Aid in Sussex (MAIS) to deliver a programme of capacity building in Community-Led Housing. Continue reading

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Learn more about Sociocracy: Free workshop

Sociocracy is a governance system that aims to balance inclusiveness with effectiveness. It is popular with housing communities in the US and elsewhere. Due to popular demand from local community-led housing groups we are running a free workshop to find out more on Saturday 29 September in Brighton.

How groups organise and work together significantly impacts on what they can achieve. Sociocracy is structured somewhere between regular hierarchies that we’re likely all used to, and ‘flat’ consensus-based formats that others may have experienced. It helps to reap the benefits of both formats – namely efficiency as well as equality.

Linked teams of people (circles) work semi-autonomously to understand the issues they have to deal with and create policies together, using inclusive techniques such as rounds and consent to make decisions efficiently. Continue reading

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Laughton Lodge – a story of building a cohousing community

Laughton Lodge was set up as a cohousing community nearly 20 years ago and is a buoyant community of 70 adults and children, living in 21 houses and sharing 23 acres of land in East Sussex.

On Tuesday 18 September, Mel Nock, a founder member of Laughton Lodge, will be talking about the journey they took to set up their community, the steps and decisions they took, the highs and lows, and how they have continued to build the community in the 20 years since.

Cohousing communities are intentional communities, created and run by their residents. Each household has a self-contained, private home as well as shared community space. Space will be given for questions and networking. Continue reading

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Community engagement and community-led housing

The session will explore how to get the wider community involved in your community-led housing project. We’ve invited two community organisers from two projects that are trying to build a community, not just houses.

The free workshop will take place on Thursday 27 September, 6.00-8.00pm at the Brighthelm Centre (Hanover Room), North Road, Brighton, BN1 1YD

Sam Kinch joins us from the Heart of Hastings project that intend to build, purchase or renovate housing across the town that will remain affordable forever. They are using innovative approaches to community ownership and community-level social investment. Continue reading

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How can community rights bring us more affordable housing?

Community Rights were introduced in the Localism Act 2011. They give a community a greater say over how their community develops.Community Rights can help to save community assets such as local shops, pubs, libraries, parks and football grounds. They can also be used to decide what is built in an area and how the area develops.

The Right to Build gives communities the power to build housing,shops or community facilities without going through the normal planning process.

Join us on Wednesday 5 September, 5.30pm-7.30pm at Friends Centre, 1A Isetta Square, 35 New England Street, Brighton, BN1 4GQ for a free workshop with Dave Boyle of The Community Shares Company. Dave will outline how a community rights approach might be used to create housing and give some examples of where this is already happening. Continue reading

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What does the new Community Housing Fund mean for the support we offer?

The Government announced a new multimillion pound Community Housing Fund in July this year.

The Fund will be managed by Homes England and will come in two phases: phase one opened on 7 July and will help groups to ‘capacity build’ i.e. cover costs during the planning stages and the second phase will be capital grants to pay for the purchase and refurbishment of homes or the construction costs for new homes.

This means that groups of people who want to set up their own community-led housing projects can now apply to Homes England for the kind of capacity-building and pre-development work that BHCLT has been supporting through our Housing Ourselves grants.

In the light of this opportunity, we have paused the grants offered by our local Community-Led Housing Programme until we see the outcome of local groups’ applications to Homes England. We have decided that this makes sense for BHCLT because the Community Housing Fund is nationally available funding and the more groups that apply from Brighton & Hove, the more investment into community-led housing we have the chance of bringing into the city. If we use our small and finite local pot for the same applications, the support in the city will be short-lived: grants and the advice and support we are able to offer through our staff team would end in Autumn 2018. Our goal is to maximise the support available for community-led housing in the city for as long as possible for all groups (present and future).

We have produced an analysis of the prospectus summarising what local people can apply for and distilling the criteria they will need to meet. It is not that different to the expectations we have of applications to our grant fund: projects need to be ‘community-led’ and be formed as a legitimate community organisation (or on the way to being one), have outline business plans/cases, and financial plans and clarity about what you aim to do and who will live in the homes.

You can apply for very small sums (for example, to incorporate) or much larger sums, if you have a viable financial plan & have secured a viable interest in a property or site. If you need it, members of our team can support you to apply to this fund and we will be running some face to face advice sessions to provide support.

To find out more or get some support with your application to the Community Housing Fund contact our Programme Manager Andrea Jones in the first instance on admin[at]

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Celebrate at the BHCLT Annual General Meeting

Help build the movement for more affordable and community-led housing in Brighton & Hove.

Join us on Wednesday 12 September at One Church, Brighton, for our Annual General Meeting. We will also be celebrating the successes of our members in launching so many new community-led housing projects over the past year.

Book your place here at Eventbrite

Community Land Trusts (CLTs) act as long-term stewards of housing, ensuring that it remains genuinely affordable, based on what people actually earn in their area, not just for now but for every future occupier. There are now almost 290 CLTs in England and Wales, and the sector has grown six-fold in the last six years.

This is the perfect opportunity to get more involved with Brighton & Hove Community Land Trust (BHCLT) and help shape our future. To vote in the AGM you must be a BHCLT member. Do that for just £1 here.

During the AGM we will be electing new BHCLT Directors. We are looking for a range of people to apply so please help spread the word. More information can be found here.

We will also be approving our collective response to Brighton & Hove City Council’s Draft City Plan Part Two.

After the AGM we will have a shared meal together at 7.20pm. Please bring food to share. Tea, coffee, water and juice will be provided.

We will then be celebrating the success of our new local community-led housing groups, hearing from some of them about their journeys so far. We will also be looking forward at what is next for BHCLT and our community-led housing programme.

Join us to get involved and help shape our future. Book your place here at Eventbrite.

Please arrive at 5.30pm on Wednesday 12 September. The event will start at 6.00pm at the One Church, Gloucester Place, Brighton, BN1 4AA.

We apologise that the venue is not easily accessible for wheelchair users or those with mobility difficulties. However, we’ll make every effort to help you access the event if you’d like to join us. Please get in touch on with any questions.

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Keswick knows: learning from another CLT

On Tuesday 10 July one of BHCLT’s Directors, Rita Garner, visited Keswick Community Land Trust in the Lake District for a National CLT Network See it and Believe it event, including a tour of three sites and some useful talks and discussion on finances.

See it and Believe it events are immersive peer-to-peer learning events that give attendees direct access to a variety of community land trust projects across the country.

Keswick CLT was formed following a Churches Together community consultation where it was clear that affordable housing was a big issue in the area.

The visit was particularly useful as Keswick experiences some of the same housing issues as Brighton: House prices are relatively high, and it is within The Lake District National Park. There is a high proportion of second homes and holiday lets.

The projects the tour profiled varied in size and how much involvement the CLT had in their building. Calvert Way had 22 of the 55 homes owned and managed by Keswick CLT. Banks Court was a converted toilet block with four one bedroomed flats on two storeys. The Hopes was the first development with land belonging to St John’s Church sold at a price that meant affordability was possible.

Overall the trip was very inspiring – seeing what has been achieved by a group of local people without background in housing, responding to what came up as the most important local issue.

More on the Keswick visit can be found here at the National CLT Network website.

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We’re recruiting new Directors – help shape our future

Brighton & Hove Community Land Trust is looking for new Directors to help build the movement for community-led housing and land in the city.

We recognise that a wide and diverse set of skills and experiences is vital to developing the Trust and that the more diverse our movement is, the stronger it will be. We would like our board to be more representative of Brighton & Hove in terms of race, gender, class, disability and other factors so we encourage people from underrepresented groups to apply.

Directors are responsible for steering BHCLT’s strategic direction, ensuring that the Trust works to: Continue reading

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SEASALT reports back from LILAC cohousing in Leeds

This post was orginally published by Lisa Hartley of SEASALT Housing Co-operative, on their website.

On another super sunny July morning a group of us from various projects in Brighton thanks to Brighton and Hove Community Land Trust travelled up to Bramley, near Leeds to check out the LILAC co-housing project. (Low Impact Living Affordable Community). Interestingly I went to a meeting about LILAC back in 2008 when I was studying at Leeds Uni and have stayed on their mailing list so it was great to finally get a chance to see it!

We arrived in perfect timing for a big communal lunch in a lovely space outside the LILAC common house and chatted to people from across the country interested in co-housing. The common house is shared by all the member residents comprising a kitchen, dining area, bookable guest room and upstairs room for film nights, events and workshops.

The group split in two and we were shown round the site on the LILAC tour.

There are 20 households living at LILAC (37 adults and 14 children) in a mixture of houses (2,3 bed) and flats. The first residents moved in 5 years’ ago and were involved in the design and a little bit of the building work too. There is even space for individual back gardens too!

The site is on a former primary school which was knocked down and the shiny red iron gate still lines the perimeter, a reminder of its former school days that the community were keen to retain. The site was less desirable for developers due to a drain at the bottom end and this influenced the design process. LILAC received funding from the Homes and Communities Agency and a grant for the timber frame from Modcell in Sweden.

Straw is the perfect building material, with a reliable surplus in the UK:

  • Just under four million tonnes of this leftover straw is produced every year by UK agriculture, according to the Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board (which would otherwise be ploughed back into the fields)
  • It takes about seven tonnes of straw to build a three-bedroom house with this pre-fabrication method
  • That means there is potential to grow the material for more than half a million new homes every year in British fields.

It is also the perfect insulator and significantly reduces energy bills. At LILAC they reckon by as much as 1/2. It is a natural sound proofer so you can play music and never have to worry about disturbing your neighbours. When we looked round it was indeed remarkably quiet considering how many people actually live there.

Solar energy systems have been set up which are then used to power the common house (valuing £4-5k of solar powered energy and free hot water when the sun shines with their solar thermal water system.

As we walked round the site there was a distinct sense of intentional often subtle steps that have been adopted to create a design that reflects the village feel that LILAC wanted to foster, something they refer to as ‘community glue’. There is no letter box instead residents pick up their post from the post room. Rather than everyone owning a washing machine there is a laundry as well as a shared workshop space with tools and a lawnmower. Bread is delivered from Leeds Bread Co-op twice a week. There are 4 large wooden bike sheds with space for 40 bikes encouraging sustainable transport.

There are spaces for 10 cars and an informal car sharing scheme, but it is so well designed that the car parks are hidden from view and we never even came into contact with them on the site visit. Children are safe to play as no roads run through LILAC. It is very much a serene oasis on an otherwise regular street of houses.

Food is a big part of LILAC, there is a big shared allotment space and residents can be part of the two (optional) shared dinners each week. There are figs, almonds and quince growing in the grounds. This summer has been so hot for the first time the pond had completely dried up.

Members are expected to contribute 2 – 4 hours a week, but it works very much on the principle the more you put in the more you get out. Task teams meet once a month (finance, membership, learning, food) and there is a General Meeting every two months.

LILAC is the UK’s first Mutual Home Ownership Society which delivers 100% affordable housing. The MHOS owns the homes and land and issues leases to its members. It is a complex model but one that means households take on ‘equity units’ (10% of the build, plus 10% deposit). In a unique truly equitable way members then pay 35% of their net income. At one time only two members worked full time, (the more you work the more you pay) which means people really can achieve an optimum work life balance and a much higher quality of life. Once all equity is acquired members pay just 10% of their net income. In the rare times people leave they can claim some of the money back, but importantly to avoid speculation this has been set to earnings NOT housing market prices.

The values that LILAC have so successfully fostered have emerged from a strong set of values; listening to each other, mutual respect and the community glue (socials, meals, celebration parties, skill shares and events). With almost 50 people living at LILAC an interesting concept has emerged one of ‘Dissensus‘ – learning to live with difference. People can still hold differing beliefs but work together to listen and come up with practical solutions. It felt like a neutral space where everyone has a voice. The group uses consensus decision making to work through problems, rather than avoiding them so while it takes longer, ultimately it results in a more harmonious way of living.

There is a community swap shop, fundraisers, Neighbourhood Watch and LILAC has also been used as a polling station. They feel they could do more to integrate with the community, but there is no denial they have created a strong community here.

I feel we are at a critical junction, we can complain about the housing crisis or we can do something about it. LILAC very much demonstrates how through hard work, dedication and dreaming big a vision of a better world is possible.

Find out more about SEASALT, a student housing co-operative, here at their website.

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