Empty homes, absent landlords and poor quality housing, led residents in South Bank to take matters into their own hands, setting up an organisation to buy and develop their own good quality and affordable homes.

Ian Jeffrey has been actively involved with housing issues in his home town of South Bank for many years.

Ian says, “Following concerns of residents about the increasing number of empty homes in the South Bank area, a group came together and agreed to form a Community Land Trust (CLT). The intention was to obtain, refurbish and rent homes to local people at affordable rates.”

That was four years ago. In conjunction with a registered housing provider Thirteen Group and with grants from Redcar & Cleveland council and Homes England, the group have now purchased five properties and are about to embark on refurbishing them. They hope to conclude this stage of the process by summer and in the meantime will be looking for tenants who will be selected by a resident driven allocations policy.

Ian continues, “Residents are a key part of our board, and meet regularly to oversee our project. We are registered with the Company’s House. We have had welcome professional support and where we can, we will use local contractors for our work. We will also be working with the local college to provide training and practical work experience for young people.”

In addition to the housing project, for several months now the group has also been operating an Eco-Shop which enables local people to purchase ten items for £2.

“The shop is proving very popular and is run by volunteers. We also have an allotment, yet to achieve its full potential, although tools and materials have been generously donated to us.”

“Our ambition is to grow, taking on more homes and the rent income going back into the project and local community activity with the hope that we can one day be fully sustainable. Whilst the process can be a little daunting, developing our own skills and utilising those of others has been crucial.”

Ian Jeffrey

CLT housing initiatives are being developed across the country and are supported and advised by the national CLT network.

Further information about the Community Land Trust is available here http://southbankclt.org