Constantine Cornwall

Local Housing Group Seeks Members

Are you in housing need or know someone who is? Do you find local properties too expensive to rent or buy? The Community Land Trust, based in Constantine, is an enthusiastic group of people who are actively working to make affordable housing available in the village. We have already made good progress towards this goal and are now looking for additional members for our Board of Directors. We are especially seeking input from people who are in direct housing need themselves. This is because the Board should reflect a broad spectrum of the community, including beneficiaries, and the Directors who initially represented this portion of the village when the Board was elected in April 2015 are themselves no longer in housing need.

Suzy Currell, a local mum who lives in Constantine and runs Muddy Creek Signs explains more:

Why did you decide to join the CLT? “When I joined, I was in need of housing myself, and welcomed this initiative personally, but even though I am no longer in im- mediate need, I care passionately about trying to alleviate the effects of the housing crisis that this country is currently suffering. I have so many friends, often with young families, who are stuck in expensive, cramped, mouldy private rented accommodation, unable to find anything better within their budget.”

What does a Director do? How much time do you need to commit? “This depends on what kind of Director you want to be. Board meetings are every 2-3 months (and usually take place at the pub!), and it is possible to just go to these and let your voice be heard in the decision making….however, there is more work to be done! Tasks include: negotiating with landowners, banking, publicity, organising public events, liaising with architects, solicitors, planning officials, and the national CLT network, taking minutes and admin.”

Another Director, Doctor Adrian Roberts, explains his motivation for being on the Board:

Why did you decide to join the CLT? “Because I care about the village and its future. I first lived here, on Fore Street, when I was four years old. My grandparents lived in Pilgrim Cottage, near the Church gate. Later on, Paula and I were the village family doctors for a quarter of a century and brought up our own family here. It has been sad to see the increasing difficulty that young couples and families have had in securing housing in the village. They have been progressively priced out of the market. Even the so called “affordable housing”, that property developers are now obliged to include, is far too expensive for many young potential purchasers. When a Land Trust was proposed I was immediately enthused by the idea. Firstly, I knew that it aimed to address a real and important unmet need. Secondly, the CLT model was already operating successfully in several sites in Cornwall, and the ideas seemed practical and realistic. Thirdly, it was not for profit. That meant, and this was important to me, that any money made would be ploughed back into the community, which would then retain an interest in any housing built so that a stock of affordable housing would remain with the village. Finally, I found that it was being proposed by a group of talented and sincere enthusiasts in whom I could have confidence.”

Constantine CLT may have appeared quiet over recent months, but work has continued steadily behind the scenes. The CLT is registered at Companies House as a Company Limited By Guarantee. Architects have drawn up conceptual site layouts to support pre-planning applications. The CLT has funds available in its business bank account to:

  1. pay for an architect to lead a ‘community engagement workshop’, to ensure local residents have the opportunity to influence and contribute to the plans that are developed;
  2. obtain specialist technical assistance relating to the build costs for the ideas that emerge most strongly from the workshop, to ensure that if any unusual ideas are favoured then their costs are robustly represented within the project’s fi- nancial feasibility; and
  3. support the costs of the subsequent pre-planning applica- tion with the County Council, so that the CLT can obtain official feedback from the planning offer’s perspective regarding the proposed scheme, before finalising a full planning application (this is only relevant if the proposed scheme is a mixed-use development, i.e. more than just housing).

This process aims to ensure that the people of Constantine are involved throughout, to reinforce the key idea that the CLT is ‘for the community, by the community’. Remember that it is entirely not-for-profit, and that the houses built by the CLT will have stronger links to the local community than housing built through any other means. Please keep your eyes peeled for updates regarding when this more design-oriented public community engagement work will kick off. Whilst we are continuing confidentially with certain sites at present, we are still open to suggestions for additional locations around the village: if you know of any sites that could be suitable for small-scale community-owned housing/studio space, please do let us know, or come along to the second AGM of Constantine Community Land Trust, scheduled to take place at the Tolmen Centre on Monday July 4th. All welcome.

James Croftson, Chairman of Directors / 01326 341135