What is a Community Land Trust?
Community land trusts (also known as “development trusts”) are community owned and led organisations.They use self-help, trading for social purpose, and ownership of buildings and land, to bring about long-term social, economic and environmental benefits in their community.
They operate in both urban and rural areas, often in neighbourhoods which have experienced the worst economic decline. They are independent, but work with the public sector, private businesses, and with other community groups.
They are community ‘anchor’ organisations, delivering services and facilities, finding solutions to local problems, and helping other organisations and initiatives succeed.The Development Trusts Association (DTA) coordinates CLTs.
The DTA aims for a successful development trust in every community. There are now over 440 development trusts in their membership, in both urban and rural areas. While many are still small, others are operating at scale: the combined income is over £260m and development trusts have £490m of assets.
Why Lewes needs its own Community Land Trust
Every progressive town needs a CLT. And Lewes is no exception. It is one realistic alternative to profit-led private development. Giving the people an opportunity to buy sites in the town, develop and manage them for the community - development of all kinds that people actually want.
Lewes Community Land Trust was founded back in 2007 to offer a credible alternative to private development with its consequent need for profit-driven investment, by providing affordable housing and leisure facilities, together with local employment opportunities, while respecting conservation needs and problems associated with flood plain development.
The Story So Far
Lewes Community Land Trust originally came into being as part of an attempt to acquire the old Harveys Yard premises in Pinwell Road and then later, as part of a consortium we set up following the demise of the developer Angel Property, we tried to acquire the North Street/Phoenix site in order to develop it for and on behalf of the community. Sadly, this bid was unsuccessful, and ultimately the land was acquired by another commercial developer, The Santon Group, in February 2012.
Since then, Lewes Community Land Trust has been exploring how it can work to influence the development that is to take place on the site. We have been investigating Santon’s approach to town centre development, and have been in dialogue with their development team over plans for Malling Brooks and the consultation process to inform master-planning on North Street.
We visited Kelham Island development in Sheffield which Santon’s lead developer, Clive Wilding, cited as an example of his work, and visited the Joseph Rowntree Foundation at New Earswick and Derwenthorpe in York. We are being guided in our approach to North Street by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation report, Urban extensions, planning and participation: Lessons from Derwenthorpe and other new communities.
We have also been exploring Brighton’s New England Quarter, which is a recent example of Santon’s work locally.
The Lewes Community Land Trust’s principal aims are to acquire land for affordable housing and to enhance community employment opportunities. Additionally, our objectives include...
- The promotion of sustainable development for the benefit of the public by the promotion of sustainable means of achieving economic growth and regeneration.
- The maintenance, improvement or provision of public amenities.
- The provision of housing for those who are in conditions of need and the improvement of housing in the public sector or in charitable ownership provided that such power shall not extend to relieving any local authorities or other bodies of a statutory duty to provide or improve housing.
- The protection or conservation of the environment.
- The creation of training and employment opportunities by the provision of workspace, buildings and/or land for use on favourable terms.
- The preservation of buildings or sites of historic or architectural importance.
Note: Sustainable development means "development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."