Monday, March 05, 2007

Affordable housing and community land trusts - more than talk?

On Saturday I went to the annual conference of the Labour Housing Group. The key note speaker was the Labour MP and former housing minister Nick Raynsford who spoke about the successes of the Labour government (particularly the decent homes standard and improving the quality of social housing) as well as the challenges ahead – notably the need for more new build to meet housing need.

In the afternoon there was an interesting discussion on the issue of mutual home ownership. David Rodgers of the CDS spoke on how these offer the promise of affordability with:

1. The public sector transferring land to a community land trust at nil cost so home buyers only buying the bricks and mortar.

2. The residential property being bought through a co-operative entity with the members buying equity stakes in the entity’s units in a manner similar to a pension fund.

(More information, including A simple guide to Mutual Home Ownership, is available on the CDS website.)

This does sound like an effective mechanism for enabling local people to get on the housing ladder in high cost areas. It has been supported by the Labour party and Liberal Democrats. It now appears to be a Conservative party “policy initiative”. It also figured in the recommendations of the Affordable Rural Housing Commission.

Let’s hope there is some action on this - as well as talk. It appears more promising than the suggestion that of 10% shared ownership.

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