End to end support for CLH – East Cambridgeshire District Council

Posted on 10th November, 2017

Making Community-Led Housing a local authority corporate priority can transform the scale of activity by adopting an end to end approach to promote community-led development – from policy through developing in-house expertise, sharing good practice across groups to establishing a development company.

East Cambridgeshire DC (ECDC) is a rural authority with high housing demand. Proximity to the City of Cambridge contributes to high land values and the lack of affordable homes. CLH is a priority because it enables ECDC to deliver schemes where and how communities want them, helping to create sustainable, vibrant places for people to work, live and play. People who may otherwise be priced out of the local area, benefit from the provision of affordable housing. Communities benefit by acquiring community assets and by ensuring their community remains sustainable.

The main barriers faced by local CLH groups are costs relating to start-up and pre-development, the lack of specialist knowledge, planning barriers and the lack of a suitable development partner. The main elements of ECDC’s support for CLH address these barriers and are:

  • Leadership: ECDC has a political champion for CLH and the CEO has a target of two new CLTs per year.
  • Funding: ECDC provides a start-up grant fund offering £5,000 to new CLH groups and a revolving loan fund of £40,000 for pre-development costs.
  • Enabling support: ECDC’s local authority trading company hosts CLT East, a CLH enabler that provides two specialist CLT advisers that support CLH groups through their development journey.
  • Supportive policy environment: A ‘Community Led Development’ SPD seeks to enable CLH by explaining how planning applications for community led development proposals should be prepared. The Local Plan encourages community led development, with a presumption in favour of genuinely community led projects which meet certain criteria.
  • Development support: Palace Green Homes is the development arm of ECDC’s LATC. It provides CLH groups with a development partner with the skill and motivation to support joint community developments. Profits are reinvested back into the Council and public services.

Full Case Study: East Cambridgeshire District Council