A Workshop with Stephen Hill

On 30th July, we had another workshop at Homebaked for the ‘Build Your Own High Street’ project, but with a bit of a difference.
This one was a presentation and practical workshop, presented by Stephen Hill, who is involved with the CLT Network and also has worked in the past with Granby Fourstreets. The talk was accompanied by a slideshow and various case studies.

On 30th July, we had another workshop at Homebaked for the ‘Build Your Own High Street’ project, but with a bit of a difference.
This one was a presentation and practical workshop, presented by Stephen Hill, who is involved with the CLT Network and also has worked in the past with Granby Fourstreets. The talk was accompanied by a slideshow and various case studies.


After introducing himself, Stephen presented us with the first slide, including a puzzling question:
“CLT: What is going on behind the tomatoes?”
We got the answer at the end of the workshop, but for now, let me guide you through it!

First, Stephen spoke to us a little about tenure.
What’s the story for Anfield, and do we have free choice of what we do?
We have to think about the function of the place, the politics surrounding it and also the community’s needs and wants.

“It’s not an arbitrary thing,” said Stephen, “It has to be right for the place and the people.”

Essentially, we have to think about what we need, and what we want to do.
While these are pretty broad things to think about, the important thing here is gathering together a good proposal, and to show that we as a community are trying to make sense of the land we’re trying to help change.

Stephen also spoke to us about property rights – the rules affecting the flow or distribution of benefits.


Case Study: 2007 Cornwall CLT Programme

This project saw 155+ homes completed, with another 100+ in the pipeline.

This CLT project involved ‘unique partnerships’ of the community themselves, local landowners and district councils.

The average house price was £ 650,000.
Market value was £ 360,00.
The cost with the land was £ 120,000.
All with a shared equity of 33%.

The basic logistics of this are: a local landowner wanted to put land in, but lock the value down for local people, so they had to think about how much people could afford to pay?
With this project, they had to work out a way to self-build the project.

People with skills could help build each others’ homes, and help each other along the way.
This really hammers to home the importance of community.

“Where I grew up, where my family are, where I work.” – Charlie, who works in the local surf shop.

Community Leadership and Creating Partners

For this project, Cornwall council gave £ 4 mil as a revolving fund.
This gave the programme momentum and allowed for capital and revenue cost recovery.

To gain interest, there was political lobbying and a CLT fund, with the idea of ‘see and believe’ behind it.
This involved showing politicians what’s been done, in order to ‘unlock doors’, and show how important CLTs are for the city.
“Make people see.”

Stephen explained that they used each scheme to create the next one, thinking all the time about resources and cost recovery – getting the money back to manage on the next project.

Partnerships Around The Land

An allignment of interests, and a mix of ownership and rental.
This doubles the rate of supply in village locations.

The ideas appeal to the community and give a sense of the unusual – it’s “definitely not normal”.

After this, we looked at our second case study, one that was a little further across the pond…

Champlain Housing Trust, Burlington, Vermont (USA)

This is the biggest CLT in the States, with 3 and a half million houses, and still going strong.

According to those involved, CLTs are the best way to:
-Spend State money responsibly.
-Make homes affordable.
-Protect citizens from ‘predatory lenders’.
-Protect lives ruined by debt.
-Rescue failing neighbourhoods.
-Build stable new communities.
and, to win local support.

Familiar ideas and themes there as they are here.

The Champlain Housing Trust is run by Senetor Bernie Sanders, who is a democrat affectionately known as the ‘socialist agitator’, and is actually running for president!

We took a deeper look at what had gone on in Cleveland, which had been known as “a failing city of failing neighbourhoods.”

“You take elected officials under your wing, and encourage them to do the right thing,” said councilman Joe Cimperman, “CLTs help stabilize. Stability is the foundation of a route out of poverty. We won’t be destroyed by Wall Street.”

The local community were champions of the idea too – “CLTs can be used as hot housing markets.”
“My house was affordable.”

After looking at how things were done over in America, Stephen asked us to think about our own CLT, and to discuss as a group our tenure options – basically, “why us?”

In pairs, we looked at the questions Stephen had posed for us.
1. What does this area need?
2. What is/isn’t the market policy offering?
3. What part of the need are we trying to meet?
4. Who will come and why?
5. What do you need/want out of the tenure option?
6. What will potential residents need/want?

After 20 minutes discussing these questions in pairs, we communicated them all together as a group back to Stephen.
Here’s our feedback:
1. What does this area need?
-Stability. We’ve not had this for 20+ years.
We also want to produce jobs, and amenities, for local people. In doing this, we also want to support local businesses, and small businesses too.
Though it might be a difficult task at first, we also want to create opportunities, and offer education and training to those in need of it.
Another recurring theme, you might notice, is the idea of “community spirit” – where are all the shops, green spaces, parks, facilities and so on? Can we bring them back?

2. What is/isn’t the market policy offering?
-Upon reflection, it was clear everyone was in agreement that the policies as they stand are not here to ‘service the community’, but instead focus solely on tourists and on the passing trade of the football ground.
There is also a considerable lack of density, what with the houses that have been knocked down.

3. What part of the need are we trying to meet?
-We are trying to meet local needs, and help give our community a sense of choice and pride.
We want to create ‘genuine affordability’ when it comes to our houses and shops, as well as good quality, and great community spaces to be used and enjoyed by all.

4. Who will come and why?
-We think there will be a mixture of local people and tourists who would come to our new community.
Hopefully, we would bring some older residents back, now we have more to offer them.
We also want to focus a lot on young people, to try and encourage them to stay in Anfield, instead of looking elsewhere for work or homes.

5. What do you need/want out of the tenure option?
-Sustainability is very important. We have to think about financial stability as well as income, and consider how manageable it will be to live in these houses, or work in the area. We have to have a sense of realism about this project.
The future of the area is critical too, and we have to build up trust – we must show that we’re a great model and could do more potentially.
The long and short of it is, we have to be “ambitious, yet sensible.”

What will potential residents need/want?
-Residents will need to feel like they have a sense of ownership, and potentially like they have ‘roots’ in the area.
The housing will have to be good, well-built and offer a solid future.
Again, affordability is key.
We would also like to see opportunities for outside space, and again, local amenities and the opportunity to live and work in the community.
We’d like to see a mixture of small businesses and potentially also some ‘big names’ too.

Case Study: Limited Equity Home Ownership
St. Clements Hospital, East London CLT.
After our group discussion, Stephen presented us with another case study, this time looking at St. Clements Hospital in London.

The building was originally a workhouse that had fell into disrepair.
The money to help turn it around was raised by crowdfunding – “Community organising made it happen.”

London city council promised that something would be placed in one of the olympic parks after the sporting event, but people in the community and the CLT wanted to see what they could do to help.
They set up some “listening campaigns”, in which politicians were interviewed and held to account.

“Communities should be able to take responsibility for their own area.
Housing must be affordable based upon what people actually earn.”

The basic wants of the community were that of more homes to be put up where the building was, and so the CLT had discussions with the developer.
The architects met with developer and CLT, and came up with a scheme based upon community interest.

This involved;
-253 new homes.
-23 limited equity homes.

This meant that it would be an affordable social rent of 35%, and the sale/resale formula of a limited equity sets values.
These values reflected the house pricing and the incomes of the general populous.

Limited Equity Homes: the basics.

-100% owned, not shared.
-Loose conditions specify the sale/resale formula.
-Permanently and truly affordable.

The CLT leaseholder arranges their own mortgage and deposit in the normal way.
Then, back to back purchases by the CLT from the developer and onward sell to CLT leaseholders.
The CLT then recovers all or some of the development costs.

To help, the Charities Aid Foundation bank provides revolving bridging finance if anyone falls out of a sale at the last minute, or if there are any delays.

The idea is basically, “Buy a CLT home and enjoy a normal life. We want to stay here, we aren’t interested in making money. We just want security.”

To promote a project that could be seen as unorthodox, such as this, the CLT looked at ‘creating value’ and ‘reinventing history’.
Acclaimed filmmaker Danny Boyle was living nearby and organised a film festival in the old hospital.
“It’s a problematic place with bad memories,” he said, “How can we help reinvent it?”

As well as this, Ruby Wax hosted the Shuffle Festival, and spoke about mental health issues. Former patients and doctors of St. Clements also attended to boost interest and community interest in the CLT project.

After we looked at this case study, Stephen discussed with us the added value of a CLT, as seen with the East London story:
-Community consent (the community speaks up for what they want, and what they are happy with).
-More homes.
-Fast planning permission.
-Unanimous approval.
-Longterm stewardship and neighbourhood regeneration.

Case Study: Wessex CLT Project
Next we looked at a case study in Wessex.

This was a partnership structure for affordable home ownership, and grant-supported rental.

Established in 2010, the Wessex CLT supported 18 projects to build 200 affordable homes, for local people.
There was a wide range of projects, such as land, homes and local amenities like shops, pubs, a car park etc.
This was a combined effort of the CLT and the housing association.

Using this project as an example, Stephen discussed with us the potential progress of how CLT/Housing Association partnership would pan out:
1. CLT selects site and freehold.
2. Grants give a long lease to the housing association.
3. The CLT and housing association work together and lead on design, numbers of homes and allocation criteria.
4. Housing association finances, builds and manages.
5. Housing association pays ground rent to CLT.
6. CLT is party to Section 106 Agreement.
7. CLT can break lease with housing association if they choose.

This benefits the CLT in that it is a low risk strategy, provides good homes and a freehold, as well as income from the ground rental, and there is always the option to buy the housing association out of the lease.
It benefits the housing association in that more housing is wanted, it reduces the cost, risk and time, and the scheme is very likely to be accepted by the community.

Case Study: Mutual Home Ownership
For our last case study, we looked at LILAC in Leeds, which some of our design team were lucky enough to go and visit.

LILAC is: Low Impact Affordable Community.

It’s a co-operative model, in that it’s a mutual home ownership society. This empowers residents and delivers 100% permanently affordable housing.

Basis of the Mutual Home Ownership Model
-developing the intermediate housing, not owning but renting.
-MHOM owns houses and issues leases to the members.
-Members pay 35% to society.
-Equity shares in the society are dependant on income and home size.
-Each household must take on equity of value of the home’s build cost.
-Leavers get the money that they paid in back (if it has been more than 3 years, they get a share of the increase or decrease of value of equity shares. This is linked to national earnings, not the local housing market.

We then looked at Financing Options. Here are some possibilities:
-Big society capital.
-Radical roots.
-Community share issues.

We also looked at potential sources of equity and social impact financing:
-Big Issue invest.
-Bridge Venture.
-Key fund.

Then Stephen shared with us a memorable, though very true quote, from Eleanor Lee of Granby Fourstreets;
“Why is it that everything we do to make CLTs work feels like defying gravity?”

This lead us into a discussion about what is so special about CLTs anyway?
-They are a witness to political or market failutre.
-They provide enuine and permanent affordability.
-Longterm vision and responsibility.
-Social and technical innovation.
-Unlocking creativity.
-Humanising social and physical change.
-Civil partnerships (citizens and state achieving more than they could on their own.)

And finally, Stephen revealed to us what the ‘secret’ of the tomatoes was in the first slide;
“We hide behind the tomatoes, dear, but whatwe are really about is…
Land reform.

All in all, the talk from Stephen Hill was inspiring, and, I think you’ll agree, very informative.
After his discussion, a small number of us met up again to have a discussion about possible tenure options, which I will share with you in a separate blog post very soon!

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