Home » Columns

Local housing: Is this how to solve our housing crisis?

I must admit many press releases I receive on property tend to be ‘sales pitches’ which I tend to ignore, but I thought this story was great news for Lincolnshire and shows a potential way forward to help us solve the shortage of homes, especially in the affordable and social homes sector.

The news is that Westleigh Partnership Homes is undertaking its very first Community Land Trust (CLT) schemes that will result in 24 new affordable homes for Lincolnshire. These homes will be built across two sites, one in Pinchbeck and the other in Wilsford.

Better still, the homes aren’t for ‘anyone’ — they are affordable homes which are for local families who may well be able to move in early next year. And these aren’t ‘for sale’ — these properties will be rented to the local people that need them and will remain in the hands of the Housing Association.

Why is this such a good story? There are lots of reasons, but one of the main problems in creating new housing, especially in rural areas, is local homeowners who, understandably, when aware someone wants to build on green land opposite them would instantly object.

The thing I like about this project is 24 homes doesn’t sound anyway near as ‘scary’ as the headlines we often see in the newspaper which might say “2,000 new homes coming to Lincoln”, even though these are typically built at 100 per year over a 20-year period. Although we wouldn’t necessarily like it if they were built overlooking our gardens and no doubt there was some opposition locally, 24 homes still feels manageable, especially when split over two sites of 10 and 14 properties.

The second thing I like about this scheme is it’s been developed with the help of different funding, so isn’t costing the taxpayer a fortune either. According to Wilsford CLT. they bought their site on School Lane from Lincolnshire County Council. The scheme has been funded by a combination of Homes and Community Agent-led grant, a grant from North Kesteven District Council, private borrowing by the Housing Association and investment by Lincolnshire Rural. For the other site on Flaxmill Lane, the Parish Council “accepted a reduced land value to keep the project viable” for its residents.

The final bit of good news is the “homes will be let at affordable rent to families with a local connection”. And these new homes will help deliver work to the area and as the village population grows – by a little, not a lot – there are hopes one of the villages may into the future be able to support a village shop too off the back of the development.

As long as this type of development is handled well, those affected are consulted first, not last, this really is a great way communities, local organisations and private funding can work together. This means the community can help to find land they agree for homes to be built on and in turn this can make a massive difference to local people who would otherwise be in the private rental sector, when really needing a permanent affordable home.