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Lune Valley Community Land Trust – a sustainable, community-led, affordable housing project

02 July 2024

Having helped Lune Valley CLT to purchase a site for their proposed housing development, we went along to take a look at the results…

Lune Valley CLT’s story is a splendid example of what can be achieved through open collaboration and partnership, along with large helpings of ambition and vision. Like most community land trusts, their stated aim is to “create affordable, sustainable homes, prioritised for people with local connection, focusing on areas within the CLT’s geographical boundary where the local plan has designated housing can occur.”

The CLT also decided at the outset that they would commit to

• “providing housing which is sustainable, energy efficient and low-cost to run, and of good quality
• protecting local green spaces and public open spaces to promote community access and biodiversity”.

With this sustainable agenda built into their ethos, the CLT identified a site in Halton, near Lancaster. The site was on the doorstep of the Lancaster Cohousing project, itself an award-winning community-led scheme built to the Passivhaus standard, completed in 2013 – and also a client of ours. https://www.lancastercohousing.org.uk/

We were approached by Lune Valley CLT to assist in the purchase of their site. Wrigleys partner, Emma Ridge recalls “piecing together the private rights of way proved really tricky. The access road was not adopted and was stuck in a dispute. The site boundaries were unclear, and part of the land was owned by a dissolved company”.

Nevertheless, we were able to assist Lune Valley CLT to purchase the site. This of course, was only one step towards the CLT’s goal. Another key element to this story of partnership was the support of the local authority. Lancaster City Council (LCC) helped to fund the early-stage feasibility work for an options appraisal and housing needs survey. LCC’s own mission to take local action on climate change, supported by a progressive planning policy in favour of high environmental design standards, and a commitment to empowering local communities, were all significant factors.

However, as Charles Ainger, Lune Valley CLT Chair explains “we did not have the in-house resource and expertise to manage the project on our own. We needed a delivery partner with development experience and the professional contacts to help realise our vision. And a partner that wanted to collaborate with us in the long term to manage the tenancies post completion and keep the homes we built affordable in perpetuity for the local community”.

Happily, South Lakes Housing were already thinking about expanding their housing provision in the region and about adopting increasingly sustainable design. Building to the specifications required to achieve the Passivhaus standard however was new ground for them. However, with robust evidence in the social housing sector pointing to Passivhaus projects delivering much lower energy bills, lower cases of rent arrears, healthier, happier tenants and lower ongoing maintenance costs, the common will to design a scheme using Passivhaus principles was established. LCC’s further funding for pre-development costs helped to de-risk the project for the new partners.

A joint selection process and a design group comprising representatives of South Lakes Housing and Lune Valley CLT was established to appoint design and construction partners with the expertise and appetite they needed. With South Lakes Housing on board, a Registered Provider, this also opened the door to affordable homes programme funding from Homes England.

Planning consent was established to create 20 new homes to meet housing needs. These included single bed ground floor flats with wheelchair access, first floor one bed flats, and a variety of 2 to 4-bedroom family homes. 13 of the homes were for affordable rent, with the remainder under a shared ownership offer with staircasing available to buyers. Crucially, the lease documentation protects South Lakes Housing to have a buy back clause in the event of properties being fully purchased under the shared ownership agreement, thus ensuring that homes were not lost to the affordable housing needs of the local community in the event of a sale.

The parties worked together (with other legal advice) on a unique 150-year lease agreement which incorporates a commitment to the environmental standards, and the ‘community led homes’ criteria of ‘no right to acquire’ and priority for local residents. This got buy in from lenders, creating an agreement that can be transferable to other community led housing partnerships.

Despite the challenge of the pandemic, the project was built out and completed in Spring 2023 and is now fully occupied. As well as being built to such high levels of thermal efficiency, the project also features:

  • Car parking spaces which are outside of the housing community, thus creating more community space and opportunities for planting and landscaping to deliver greater biodiversity
  • EV chargers located adjacent to the site

Having been through the process from the outset, Charles Ainger’s message to CLTs is simple; “go for the Passivhaus standard, and find a decent housing association partner with the same vision as you.”

Emma Ridge added, “the CLT dealt with the housing association directly themselves which was unusual but seems to have worked brilliantly! Wrigleys is incredibly proud to have been involved in the project which we hope transforms lives for residents.”

For more information visit:

https://lunevalleyclt.org/

https://www.southlakeshousing.co.uk/halton-celebrates-opening-of-20-new-affordable-eco-passivhaus-homes-fit-for-the-21st-century/

https://haltonlunehydro.org/ 

If you would like to discuss any aspect of this article further, please contact Emma Ridge or any other member of the community-led housing team on 0113 244 6100.

You can also keep up to date by following Wrigleys charities team on Twitter here and sign up to receive our dedicated community-led housing newsletter here.

The information in this article is necessarily of a general nature.  The law stated is correct at the date (stated above) this article was first posted to our website. Specific advice should be sought for specific situations. If you have any queries or need any legal advice please feel free to contact Wrigleys Solicitors

 

 
 

 

 
 
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