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I first came across the brilliant innovation called Community Land Trusts when doing some work for social entrepreneurs' network Ashoka several years ago. The idea seems almost too radical to be deemed possible at first: it creates “an intermediate housing market where citizens themselves take responsibility for the distribution of wealth inherent in land and its stewardship for generations to come”. In other words: the community acquires land – usually from the local authority – and then offers homes at genuinely affordable long-term leases, linked to median local salaries rather than market value.
This article explores the success of London’s first CLT in Camley Street, which was established two years ago. One-bed flats were offered for sale at £130,000, compared to the £450,000 expected for similar flats in the area. The only catch: buyers can’t make a profit out of reselling their property; the housing will remain affordable for future occupants.
For those interested in replicating the decades-old tried and tested model, it is interesting to note that the latest London project got its investment from pension funds. In the words of initiator Christian Spencer-Davies: “The bit that excites investors is that this is recession-proof.”