Image: Cllr Gareth Wilson (Lib Dem, Haddenham) at the new CLT development at Ovins Rise Haddenham
Proposals by Liberal Democrat councillors to increase membership of Community Land Trusts (CLTs), and renew their focus on affordable housing, have been snubbed by East Cambridgeshire Conservatives.
Liberal Democrats on East Cambs District Council’s Finance & Assets Committee on Thursday (24 March) proposed that in order to access council grants to plan their work, CLTs should demonstrate that they had general community support. They would need to show this by signing up four per cent of the adult population of their area as CLT members.
“For most CLTs, membership is simply a matter of being a resident of the CLT area aged 18 or above, and paying a one-off fee of £1,” explains Cllr Lorna Dupré (Sutton) who proposed the motion. “That’s hardly a high bar. We chose the four per cent figure because that was the proportion of the local population signed up by Haddenham CLT. This shows it can absolutely be done, and it’s an important way to ensure that CLTs bring communities together rather than split them apart.”
“There’s a huge shortage of genuinely affordable homes across East Cambridgeshire,” adds Cllr Gareth Wilson (Haddenham). “We desperately need new homes for affordable rent, as well as some housing for shared ownership. But CLTs need to show that they have the backing of their local communities. The Conservative proposal that five people can form a CLT and access public funds, and land which would not be made available to anyone else, is quite astounding.”
Liberal Democrats also proposed that CLTs should only be able to bid for council funds to draw up housing schemes if they could show that any full market price housing in their plans was absolutely necessary to ensure higher numbers of affordable homes than the council’s policy requires. It should also not result in a greater increase in the value of the site than if they had obtained the funding for affordable homes through grant money.
All these proposals were voted down by Conservative councillors on the committee.