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A row of terraced houses

A Woolacombe development of 21 new social rent homes is one step closer to reality thanks to gap funding from North Devon Council being added to the first Community Land Trust (CLT) scheme in the district.

At a meeting of the council's Strategy and Resources Committee today (Monday 6 June), Members decided that a total of £630,000 (£30,000 per unit) would be added to £141,000 per unit of external funding to enable the delivery of the social rent homes, subject to planning permission. The external funding, from Homes England and Aster has drawn almost £3 million of government/Registered Provider funding into North Devon. 

Mortehoe and Woolacombe CLT is a non-profit organisation set up in 2020 through the original Community Housing Fund; a government Fund set up to increase housing supply in England by increasing the number of additional homes delivered by the community-led housing sector. 

The new housing site, adjacent to Woolacombe Village Hall, was presented to the community and has received huge community support. With partnership working by the community, the Community Land Trust, the parish council, the ward member, the National Trust, Middlemarch and council officers, the scheme is inching closer to becoming a reality. The next step is for planning consent to be sought.

North Devon Council's Lead Member for Housing, Councillor Nicola Topham says: "Social rent is the most genuinely affordable way of renting; often being up to half the cost of open market rent. If the scheme goes ahead it will increase the supply of social rented housing in our district, which will contribute to the alleviation of the huge pressures on our housing market, currently worsened by the housing crisis.

"We are delighted that our contribution could enable the delivery of these much-needed homes in Woolacombe, providing 21 families with somewhere they can call home at a truly affordable rent whilst also providing longer-term security of tenure." 

Aster Group Chief Investment Officer, Amanda Williams says: “Affordable housing in rural communities is often hard to find, so it is great that this community-led project has taken an important step forward receiving this funding from North Devon Council. We’re always keen to work in close partnership with our vital local authorities to help them meet their affordable housing needs, and this project is no exception. We look forward to continuing to support Mortehoe and Woolacombe CLT in delivering these much-need affordable homes for the local community.”

The gap funding by the council is part of their objective to tackle the housing crisis in the district through a number of measures, including looking at how to resource the delivery of affordable housing via community-led housing models, both financially and in terms of staffing.

The council's contribution to the social rent homes in Woolacombe is being made up by varying the council's capital programme to the amount required to go ahead with the development. Over half of the budget consists of affordable housing commuted sums (where affordable housing cannot be provided on a housing site, often because the affordable housing requirement is a fraction rather than a whole build). The rest is funds from the government's Community Housing Fund and the council's approved capital programme.

People seeking affordable housing must register with Devon Home Choice; only those registered will be considered for the scheme. 

Anyone who would like to join and become a member of the Mortehoe and Woolacombe CLT can email mwclt@outlook.com or contact their Facebook page.