Abbotts Ann Community Land Trust Housing Development
Our story begins back in 2013 when the Abbotts Ann Vision initiative invited villagers to imagine their vision for the future of Abbotts Ann. Many ideas were suggested through discussion groups and community consultations and as a result a number of activities took place, some of which continue to this day.
75% of the discussion groups raised the issue of housing: people said that the village needed more affordable housing and also open-market housing for sale to people who wanted to continue to live in the village but were occupying homes that had become too large for them. It was noted that home owners tend to enlarge their property so that the stock of smaller dwellings both for young people and the elderly was reduced.
In response a Housing Project Group was formed and in 2016 it carried out a Housing Needs Survey with the aim of getting a clear picture of the scale of local need and to gauge the support of local people for a small development. It was issued to all the households in the Parish.
37% responded – a good response rate for this kind of survey. It showed that:
- 80% were in favour of such a development (62% for a mix of affordable and open-market housing and 18% for affordables only).
- 20% were not in favour of any kind of development.
- 22 households said they would need affordable housing within the next three years; they all had a local connection to Abbotts Ann.
- 30 households said they would need to ‘down-size’ within the next three years; many were living in homes (and gardens) that had become too large for their needs – or could see that this would be the case in the near future.
These were some of the reasons given by those who said they needed an affordable home:
- They wanted to start their first independent home and remain in the village
- They needed to be near to a family member who was living in the village
- Their present accommodation was overcrowded
- They could not afford a to buy or to rent privately in the village
In the January of the following year over a hundred people packed the Abbotts Ann School Hall for a Public Meeting. After hearing about the plans, they were overwhelmingly in favour of the proposed development – if a site could be found. And they suggested nearly 30 possible sites; residents, TVBC planning department, and land-owners were consulted; in the end this showed that three sites could meet all the criteria set down. Negotiations were begun and have been on-going ever since. (See Site Selection page on this website). One site has proved to be available on acceptable terms.
On 8th February 2019 the Abbotts Ann Housing Project was registered as a Community Land Trust (CLT) so that the Affordable housing built would remain genuinely affordable for village people. This meant that the CLT became eligible for a grant from the Government’s Community Housing Fund and an architect and other professionals were appointed to prepare a feasibility study. We held a creative tender process with multiple architects and were delighted to select Proctor and Matthews – an award winning architectural practice.
The CLT also looked for a developer/builder partner and after a competitive tender process were delighted to find Haygarth Ross, a company based locally in Abbotts Ann who share our aspirations for the project and the desire that it should benefit the village.
After three years of negotiations Abbotts Ann CLT will in 2020 (with the approval of the people of Abbotts Ann) sign an Option Agreement between ourselves, Haygarth Ross, and the preferred land-owner.
The vision in the hearts and minds of so many villagers back in 2013 will hopefully soon begin to be realised.