It was at this Right to Build Expo that I attended a breakout group session led by Tom Chance, Director of the National Community Land Trust Network. He helped to affirm some of our ideas and gave me reason to believe that looking at pursuing a community led development across the Council and Church plot might not be complete insanity! Community Land Trust is a way of holding land that embodies the sort of idea for affordability that we had been thinking about, where it is secured in perpetuity.
It was developed in 1969 inspired by the earlier Garden Cities movement. How you get the land is another question, but in some cases it has been gifted or sold at a below market price by some philanthropic owner, and occasionally by a council. The Community Land Trust provides a legal form to put the land into a Trust for the benefit of the community and a lot of work has been done to develop a route map for interested groups and a governance model.
We were not expecting anyone to gift us anything, and we thought either the church or the council should retain the land. But we were starting to think that if we could make something work in terms of a self build, then we should be able to make it work for others too and it could be a community. I mentioned the idea to Tom and he encouraged me to apply for their ‘first stage funding’ that would fund one of their consultants to help us develop the idea. I did this the very next day.
Michael Holmes also gave me the contact details for ‘Faith in Affordable Housing’ (aka Housing Justice) an organisation working to promote housing justice and advise the church on disposal of land for affordable housing. I wrote to them too.
From there it became an investigation into community building. My husband Peter, who is an architect, had already worked out that it was feasible to build two houses on the vicarage plot (managed by the Diocese of London) and a further 4-5 units on the Enfield Council-owned plot, so a small community project was plausible.