Seeing is believing with Cornwall CLT

On 17 October, Amy Hall from the BHCLT team went to a National CLT Network See it and Believe it event in Duloe, Cornwall, including a tour of houses under development nearby.

Established in 2006, Cornwall Community Land Trust is now one of the biggest in the country. It develops its own housing as well as supporting and advising the many other smaller CLTs across the county. Between 20007 and 2018 Cornwall CLT has built, supported or enabled 236 homes.

We heard from Director of Cornwall CLT, Andrew George that CLTs are trying to address specific local need in a particular way. He said a hard headed, pragmatic approach was needed as, “you can’t knit houses out of hope.”

George explained that in Cornwall there are more than 20,000 families on the housing register and many others who never put their names down because they know they will never get anything through the council. People need to be on the register to rent through Cornwall CLT so they have actively encouraged people to join.

Photo by the National CLT Network

The CLT makes use of various legal mechanisms – including section 106 agreements and rural exception sites to help meet local need and keep housing affordable for future generations.

While Cornwall has some similar housing problems to Brighton – such as a wide gap between average wages and house prices – it is also very different. Parts of the county are rural but there are many towns and villages. In some areas many young people leave the county, partly because of lack of job opportunities, partly because of the price of housing, as well as other reasons.

Second home ownership is a massive issue, particularly on the coast. It seemed from speaking to people that the experiences of the CLT in St Ives – where parking spaces have been sold off for as much as £40,000 – were very different to those of people in smaller villages further up the county.

We had a site tour of Jubilee Close, just round the corner form the community centre where the event was held. There are 18 homes being built there – 8 affordable rent and 10 shared ownership. The development is bring led by Cornwall CLT, working with the developer Aster Group, on a site leased from the Duchy of Cornwall.

One of the interesting ways Cornwall CLT has financed projects is through Cornwall Council’s £4million Revolving Loan Fund designated to support the development of new affordable housing by CLTs. The Fund loans up to £1.5 million per scheme.

Several CLTs in Cornwall have also used community shares to raise money. According to Andrew George, this tends to have more success for local projects than overall concepts.

We also heard from Trelay Cohousing which was established in 2007. They didn’t set up with the CLT but we heard that if they were to set up now they would want the CLT to buy the land. As it is, they run as a not for profit company and residents do not own, rent or hold shares. People with capital can buy equity, or people can pay a share of the mortgage regularly.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay for the second half of the event but the National CLT Network have written about the whole day here.

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