Residents lead bid to build homes for Thanet families

Some of the members of Thanet Community Housing

By Jodie Nesling

A new housing scheme led by locals will build affordable homes for isle families – with land already earmarked for development.

Thanet Community Housing is a Land Trust, which means members of the community have a say in the decision-making process behind the purchase of land to build homes for families in the area.

Founding member and trustee Grace Rae says setting up the trust has taken months of work behind the scenes.

She said: “I have known about Land Trusts for about a decade and always thought they were a brilliant idea – groups of people building homes for local families, offering genuine affordability.

“We started in March and there’s been a lot of work creating the legal entity, but just as we were looking to publicise it Covid-19 and lockdown took place.

“But essentially we are now looking at buying two sites. There is an area of land in Minster in St Mary’s Road which is council-owned. We are also in discussions with the private owner of a long term derelict site in Clifton Street, Cliftonville.”

The Thanet-wide board of trustees possesses a range of diverse and specialist skills that offer a wealth of expertise when navigating what is a sometimes complex process.

The chair, Angela Curwen, formerly owned Kent Crisps and Kentish Oils and most recently stood for parliament as the Lib Dem candidate for North Thanet.

Grace Rae

Other volunteers include Cliftonville architect Tamsin Landells of RLA, whose ethos explores sustainability and sourcing renewable materials in the face of climate change.

Due to second home ownership and rising costs there are now around 1,946 people waiting on the council housing list.

Figures in August also revealed there are currently 1,273 empty homes across the isle, and that of those just 33 are council-owned.

Ms Rae says the combination of empty homes, substandard housing and rising market prices – partly due to creeping gentrification – are exacerbating an already untenable situation.

She explained: “I was on furlough and wanted to do something meaningful to help so started assisting at the foodbank and it was while delivering parcels in Cliftonville that I realised the disparity of the living conditions.

“Neighbouring homes with the same number of tenants would be vastly different, with some families living in terrible conditions.”

While the council has worked hard to build new homes, it is also supportive of the new community initiative and has awarded them a £10,000 grant to help with their initial set-up.

Ms Rae, who moved to Cliftonville three years ago, says housing will be awarded to families who are long term residents.

She said: “It’s very exciting. The hope is that it goes on to much bigger things.”

To join Thanet Community Housing for £1 and to vote on decision making visit thanetcommunityhousing.org.

What are CLTs?

Community land trusts (CLTs) are set up and run by ordinary people to develop and manage homes as well as other assets important to that community, like community enterprises, food growing or workspaces.

CLTs act as long-term stewards of housing, ensuring that it remains genuinely affordable, based on what people actually earn in their area, not just for now but for every future occupier.

There are now over 290 CLTs, half of which formed in the last two years.

Information provided by the National Community Trust

6 Comments

  1. This is a very hopeful development.
    There is a lot of loose talk about how Britain needs more houses and that land should be built on etc.
    But the REAL discussion should include WHAT sort of homes, WHERE are they really needed, HOW much will they cost to buy or rent and WHAT is the income level of the people most in need of housing.
    For some years, one strategy has been to allow property developers to build all over the place. Let them build expensive “executive-style” three and four-bed houses and agree with them about a small number of “affordable” homes (small ones, in other words).
    Increasingly, we find building firms reneging on the deal and announcing at the last moment that they can’t afford the loss incurred in providing these smaller homes after all. Or else, the small “affordable” homes get built but we all find that they stay small but are still overpriced for local young people. And weak Councils just give in and let them!
    So we end up with no reduction in the number of rough sleepers and, and on a much bigger, but invisible, scale, no reduction in the number of young couples and families living, overcrowded, with in-laws etc (And we are now becoming aware of how multi-generational households are so risky for spreading Coronavirus).
    We need more genuinely affordable homes including Council-run properties that are available at sensible rents. We need to return to a system of rent controls in all local areas to keep homes affordable.
    And we need innovative schemes like this one that get national funding to provide what is needed NOT what property developers like to build!
    With the government we have got, I won’t be holding my breath!

  2. I take it this is going to be non-profit overwise it pretty much the same as any developer building them and selling them off or renting them out for a profit. (very much doubt it)

  3. I fully support the Thanet Community Housing scheme and would urge as many residents as possible to join and become a voting member.

    This community led land trust should be a blueprint for projects in Thanet which sadly has so many empty homes and long term derelict sites which should be brought back into use.

  4. “Figures in August also revealed there are currently 1,273 empty homes across the isle, and that of those just 33 are council-owned.

    Ms Rae says the combination of empty homes, substandard housing and rising market prices – partly due to creeping gentrification – are exacerbating an already untenable situation.”

    Conspicuously failing to mention 5 million mostly EU migrants (most in London and the SE) into the UK. All of whom need to live somewhere.

    • Have a day off from this pointless narrative Barry.

      These people enrich our wonderful society and don’t distract from it.

      Many are DRs and Nurses that were more vital than ever this year. They are not the reason for the housing crisis.

    • Where do you the 5m figure from Barry.
      What is a ‘mostly migrant’? EU workers have a right to stay in the UK until Jan 1st, some might stay, but others won’t.
      Actually 250,000 have already left since the pandemic started as they don’t think their prospects and health outcomes will improve.So if you want British jobs for British people,there you are.
      I hope you don’t need hospital treatment as the NHS is very short of nurses and doctors,but then you don’t mind waiting until an English doctor or nurse appears, do you?
      We are beginning to reap what we have sown, and the harvest is going to be a bitter one for some.

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