HCLT West End Gardens Development - Questions & Answers

Last updated 26th November 2019

 

Q. What stage is the development at now?

A. The Haddenham CLT West End development proposal was granted planning permission on 7th February 2018. The scheme is for 54 homes, 19 of which will be CLT owned affordbale homes buillt for local people in perpetuity. We are working with local developers Palace Green Homes. We started work on site in Autumn 2019 and expect the first 3 affordable homes to be completed by August 2020. the entire scheme sgould be completed by Spring 2022.

Q. Why did you choose the West End Site?

A. Haddenham Community Land Trust (HCLT) put out a request, a "call for land" in 2016 and received offers for two sites. These were carefully evaluated by the Trustees and shared with the Haddenham and Aldreth community at a public meeting. We decided to select the West End Site as our first scheme. There were other suitable sites in the village, but the HCLT financial model requires land to be offered by benevolent land owners who want to help the village and are willing to offer the land at considerably less than normal development prices. Other landowners approached have chosen to hold on to and potentially sell their land to the highest bidder. This is understandable and will maximise their return and that of the developers by potentially building larger houses and by increasing the  density of development. The more community led development we have, the less likely it is for this to happen, which is why we need support from the local community for this project and any that follow.

We selected this site for a number of reasons:

  • The initial survey work showed there are few physical restraints to hinder development.

  • It is reasonably close to the village centre.

  • Safe access can be provided to the A1123 satisfying County Council Highways Dept criteria.

  • The size means there can be generous green spaces, good sized gardens and safe parking.

  • There are no public footpaths crossing the land and it is not in a flood plain. 

  • Although local residents are always affected by new developments, we believe this can be minimised through sensitive use of the generous site, use of the topography and by including bungalows.

Q. Why are there only 19 affordable homes?

A. The initial local housing needs study indicated that there was a need for up 15 houses specifically for local people who may be unable to rent or buy suitable housing on the open market. Only CLT owned homes can be identified specifically for local people. Other affordable housing may be made available on the open market on this site or other developments but this is outside the control of the CLT. We opened the “waiting list” for expressions of interest in affordable homes. From the experiences of other CLTs we were told that demand may prove greater than predicted. 

During December 2018 after a public meeting but long before work started on site, we received 10 serious expressions of interest for housing. This clearly demonstrated the need for affordable housing within the local community. On discussion with the developers and bearing in mind that there was likely to be increased interest as the site work commenced, the Trustees decided to increase the number of CLT homes to 19. 

Q. Is there capacity in the school, the surgery and other services?

A. The CLT is working with the community to ensure there is sufficient capacity. The CLT cannot be responsible for the whole issue of public services since the local development plan targets Haddenham for 150 new houses over the next 5 years. Therefore additional capacity will be required with or without the CLT site. The CLT as a community led developer, will take these concerns much more seriously than a commercial developer who is simply looking to exploit sites within the village for maximum profit.

The CLT has already had exploratory meetings with the local school and GP surgery.

Additional traffic is a huge concern for the village but that traffic will come from all developments in the village and the surrounding area whether from this scheme or others. We are working with the County Council to ensure the access to the site is safe and doesn't increase risks to traffic on the A1123.

The scheme will generate significant monies for updating infrastructure (including health, education, social care, transport, libraries, leisure and flood defences). The Community Infrastructure levy (CIL) on the 54 properties will raise about £390,000 to be spent on these local services (15% of this, or £58,500 approximately will be returned to the Parish Council to use at their discretion).

 

 

Q. Why have you chosen Palace Green Homes and not gone out to tender for a development partner?

A. This was a significant issue to some residents given that Palace Green Homes is owned by East Cambs District Council. The Trustees gave this considerable thought before committing to this route. The Trustees have no involvement with Palace Green Homes and our interactions with them are all conducted at arms length. Our aim is to provide the best deal for our local community. There are significant benefits for the wider community (see later in this section) from using Palace Green Homes, but these were not the prime concern of the Trustees. The CLT was formed in 2016 by a group of volunteer unpaid Trustees with little initial financial resource. We decided that we needed to take a pragmatic route to deliver much needed housing asap. Having looked at the resources and timescales of other CLTs, we wanted to achieve the same results with our limited resources before more commercial developers moved forward in the village.

Under the agreement with Palace Green homes HCLT will own 19 affordable homes by 2021 with no upfront financing for Architects, Land Purchase, Planning or Construction. HCLT will then have assets valued at approximately £3.3m for a contract price of around £1.3m which is a fantastic deal for the village. HCLT will purchase the houses at the end of construction with a secured mortgage loan of £1.3m serviced by ongoing rental income. We will then have additional equity in the houses, above the value of the loan which can be used as security for other community led development. As previously mentioned, the Parish Council will also receive £58,500 to spend at their own discretion.

In addition, Palace Green Homes, as the commercial arm of East Cambs District Council will return £2.2m from the scheme to the District Council to help pay for services in the wider community. This profit and similar profits from other CLT schemes in the district will greatly assist ECDC to continue to provide essential services at reasonable costs when central government grants are completely removed in the next few years. In any other relationship with a commercial developer, these profits would have gone to developer shareholders.

We believe we could not achieve the same results in the same timescales by any other means.

We hope you will agree that the benefits of this approach are considerable.

Q. Local residents are affected, what is being done to minimise impact on them?

A. As with any development, there will be impacts on local residents. As a community led development we will do all we can, within reason, to minimise these impacts. We have already listened to the feedback received at various public meetings and looked at using the topography of the site, sensible and sensitive use of the generous area and positioning of bungalows to minimise impact. In addition carefully designed landscaping will aim to enhance the variety of plant and animal life that will inhabit the green spaces, greatly improving the ecology from its original status as an open field.

We will be working closely with Palace Green Homes to try to keep disruption from construction activity to a minimum. We will aim to keep neighbouring residents informed about the progress of the programme of works.

We will endeavour to take on board all comments received from the recent and future consultations.

Q. What types of tenure are you offering?

A. We have assessed local housing needs and decided that the first priority was to provide affordable rented property. Listening to input from the public and from other CLTs we are aware that some families and individuals are eager to buy affordable homes in their own right. As a consequence of this we will be offering a small number of units on a shared ownership basis. We will contnue to monitor the balance between rental and shared ownership as the site develops.

Q. Are you looking at other sites? 

A. It is possible that as the East Cambs Development Plan evolves, that further land will be offered to the CLT. We will consider each site on its merits.

Q. What are the benefits of this CLT site compared to a developer led commercial development? 

A. We have explained the financial benefits to the CLT, Parishioners, local people and the wider East Cambridgeshire community in an earlier question. In summary the benefits are:

-19 affordable properties will be made available to local people who are currently unable to secure the housing they need in Haddenham and Aldreth on the open market. These properties will be built to a high standard.

-Approximately £58,500 funds will be raised for Parish Council use on local facilities.  

-CLT developments can be low density (approximately half that of commercial development).

-CLT development will better reflect the views and priorities of the community. 

-CLT affordable homes are only available to people who live, work or have close ties to Haddenham or Aldreth (via the HCLT allocation policy). Other affordable homes built in the village may be allocated on a much wider geographical basis over which the community has no direct control.

In our view, community led development is much better for the village in all respects as residents can have a degree of influence.

Q. I have opinions on this - how can I make them heard and become involved?

A. Please sign up to the HCLT as a member or, volunteer as a Trustee if you feel you have something to offer and contribute to the CLT's development and shape the future of our local community.

 

We are located at:

 

Arkenstall Centre
c/o The Library,

Haddenham

CB6 3XD

Contact us today!

If you have any queries or wish to make an appointment, please contact us:

 

 

 

admin@haddenhamclt.org.uk

 

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