The Conservative shadow housing minister Michael Gove is to lead a special taskforce to investigate how to help first-time buyers onto the property ladder through the extension of Community Land Trusts.
Gove will assemble a team of lawyers, landowners, existing CLT pioneers, planners and local government leaders to explore what the current barriers are to the rapid growth of the model and propose solutions which will help unlock the benefits of development for the community.?
The CLT model is designed to promote greater social responsibility and community involvement in meeting housing needs, as well as giving young people opportunities they would not otherwise have.
Because CLTs allow land to be released for development, which is then owned in perpetuity by a not-for-profit organisation, houses built on the land can be made available to new purchasers at half the cost they would otherwise pay.
Owners can sell on their properties and benefit from any increase in the value of the bricks and mortar that has developed over time, while the land itself remains in the hands of the CLT.?
CLTs also allow for those with limited incomes to get on the ownership ladder by giving families the chance to acquire an initial slice of equity in the property, typically by paying a fixed percentage of their income, and then as their circumstances change they can “staircase up” their level of ownership.
The CLT model was inspired by the vision of the Levellers and Diggers, radical democrats who fought on parliament’s side in the Civil War, who believed in community ownership of land. The idea was later taken up by the Chartists in the 19th century and made a reality in 1903 with Ebeneezer Howard’s development of Letchworth Garden City.?
CLTs have been particularly successful in America and over the past 15 years more than 130 CLTs have been developed in both urban and rural areas of the States.
The first CLT in the US was set up by Martin Luther King in 1967 to secure affordable access to land for African American workers.?
Gove says: “The sad fact is that the dream of home ownership is literally a dream for too many who cannot ever imagine finding the money for their first deposit on a flat or house.
“But we believe that by following the example set by visionary pioneers such as Dr King that dream can become a reality for many more.
That’s why the Conservative Party is establishing a new taskforce to explore how we can bring down the barriers which stand in the way of this exciting route to ownership.”