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Community-led trust takes on affordable homes crisis

The affordable homes crisis across the country is being taken on by hundreds of community-led trusts, with one starting in the borough.

The Windsor Ascot and Maidenhead Community Land Trust (WAMCLT) has been set up to offer a ‘more balanced approach to housing’ through community-led projects.

CLTs are organisations made up of groups of skilled volunteers, such as former councillors and architects.

They focus on community-led housing, which involves local people playing a leading and lasting role in solving housing problems.

The idea has received lots of support from regions nationwide, and the steering group for WAMCLT is in the process of meeting possible partner organisations as well as councillors with a view to acquiring land and starting to address the shortfall in affordable housing.

The aim is for ‘community-led trust land’ to be purchased thanks to the ‘community housing fund’ from national government, where £163million will be provided across England up to the 2020-2021 financial year.

Chairman of WAMCLT Claire Milne believes it is a scheme that can work.

“Some counties like Cornwall are really ahead of the game and are building hundreds of houses on ‘community-led trust land’ that is given to them,” she said.

“The government seems to want to support having housing in a ‘third sector’, so they have created this fund. It puts land in community control.

“It is developing into a growing movement and the government is recognising that it is a valuable idea.

“A lot of us are concerned about the lack of affordable housing and national government have not really been standing up to the job.”

One of the major steps is acquiring the community-led land off the council, and Claire said that she has seen some good signs for  the trust’s relationship with local government.

She said: “We can’t say [the Royal Borough] are supporting us yet but the signs are quite helpful.

“In 2017, RBWM commissioned Ecomotive [a Bristol-based community housing organisation] to produce a feasibility report about community-led housing and to organise public meetings in Maidenhead and Windsor.

“There is lots of local support.”

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