A FRESH appeal is being made by Torridge District Council for land to develop community-led housing schemes, despite being told that they are very costly and hard work to bring to fruition.

Members of the full council backed a motion by Cllr Cheryl Cottle-Hunkin (Lib Dem, Shebbear and Langtree) who said that the district was far short of the affordable housing it needed to solve the housing crisis and asked the council to put out a request to landowners to come forward with land which might be suitable for community land trusts.

Community land trusts (CLTs) are non profit organisations that own and develop land for the benefit of the community – they typically provide affordable homes, community gardens, civic buildings, pubs, shops, shared workspaces, energy schemes and conservation landscapes. 

They can be set up by the community or a landowner, developer or council and are protected as a community asset in perpetuity.

Cllr Cottle-Hunkin said: “Torridge District Council declared a housing crisis back in 2021 and has since spent considerable time and energy looking at housing solutions on council-owned land. 

“It is clear that only a very small number of sites will be able to provide some temporary accommodation, far short of what is needed to solve the housing crisis in Torridge.

“Therefore, I propose this council puts out a request to landowners to come forward with land which might be suitable to be developed in the form of community land trusts. 

“When such land is available and considered appropriate, this council will actively support local communities to bring forward their own local housing schemes.”

Cllr James Craigie (Ind, Bideford East) said he was wholeheartedly behind local communities having an input in how things are done and Cllr Rosemary Lock (Con, Two Rivers and Three Moors) said she was fully in support of identifying landowners but suggested that parish councils were written to as their members would be more aware of what land might be available.

Cllr Anna Dart (Ind, Hartland) said there was a community land trust in her ward and it was “no mean feat” to get that going as there were some “major obstacles to overcome”.

“There might be land available but a lot of support and collaboration is needed to bring a community land trust forward and that support is just not there from Torridge at the moment. 

“There are a lot of obstacles that can inhibit it.”

Council officers admitted they were still looking to recruit an enabling officer for CLTs and needed to tweak the job description to get the right person.

Chairman of the council Ken James (Ind, Milton and Tamarside) said there was encouragement for CLTs although £60million of government funding promised for the last three years had not materialised.

He said the new Devon Housing Task Force was championing CLTs: “I do support the motion and putting the request out to parish councils, but here’s a word of warning, an awful lot of work is involved and there is a shortage of money at the moment.”