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Wickham Community Land Trust

Our history

Origins of CLTs and where they operate today

Community Land Trusts (CLTs) started in practical land reform by the Co-operative movement and the Chartist movement. John Ruskin and Octavia Hill used community-owned land ideas to found housing associations and the National Trust in the late nineteenth century. In the 1990s, CLTs were used in Britain by Scottish crofters for community buy-outs from absentee landlords such as the Isle of Eigg and Ghiga Trusts. At the same time English villages, such as Stonesfield in Oxfordshire, were seeking CLT solutions to ensure village viability and affordable homes. Other CLT affordable housing projects are being developed in Cornwall, Dorset, Stroud, Powys and Gwynedd.

Wickham Community Land Trust (WCLT)

Wickham CLT acknowledges early work by the Church of England. The Bishop of Portsmouth’s 2004 Kairos initiative asked parish churches throughout Portsmouth Diocese to identify the needs of Church Procession their communities and challenged them to think in new ways about what the church can do to serve them better. At Wickham, St. Nicholas Church Kairos Group, consisting of churchgoers and non-churchgoers, greatly encouraged by the late Rev. Arnold Hirst, confirmed the need identified in the Wickham village plan for affordable housing. They began to work together to seek the best way to satisfy this need. These people continued to meet and formed the Wickham Affordable Housing Group (WAHG). WAHG changed its name to WCLT on incorporation into a Company Limited by Guarantee in June 2008.

Although tracing its origins to a Church of England initiative, WCLT is a fully independent organisation and allocations to any properties will, by legal provision of the Trust’s rules, not be controlled or influenced in any way by the support the church gives the project.

WCLT bought its first homes for local people in August 2012 after seven years of negotiation by the Trustees.

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An example of a Community Land Trust in England

Stonesfield Community Trust, Oxfordshire

In the early 1980s, steep rises in land value in West Oxfordshire had a destructive Stonesfield pic 1 effect on many village communities. In response, the Stonesfield Community Land Trust (SCT) was founded in 1983. Local activist, Tony Croft, donated a quarter acre site for affordable housing for local people.

For more information about Community Land Trusts see National Community Land Trust Network.

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