Pioneering community housing project secures £2 million funding from ethical bank

Development projects in Devon

A pioneering community led village development to provide homes, jobs and facilities in Devon has secured a £2 million loan from Triodos Bank. Finance from the bank will enable construction to start on phase one of the 7.2 ha development.

The funding from Triodos will enable High Bickington Community Property Trust to begin the first phase of a flagship Community Land Trust development of affordable housing, workspaces and a renewable energy plant.

The second phase will see the development of a community building, playing fields and the building of infrastructure for a new primary school that will also have a multi-use games area.

In addition, a site is being retained for a possible future health centre and a community woodland has already been planted and is being well used by the local community. Future phases will see the building of market sale housing that will enable the repayment of loans and underpin the future financial viability of the affordable housing and community facilities being provided.

The project is a key demonstration of the government’s localism and big society agendas and it will have a considerable impact within the local community. Aiming to provide a model approach for others to follow, it is one of just 13 Community Land Trusts in the UK, with a further six in the process of being established. Triodos Bank has agreed funding for one of these and is in ongoing discussions with a number of the others.

The trust, which has around 200 members in the village, identified affordable housing as a local priority and worked with partners, including the local Parish and County Councils, to develop proposals and secure planning permission for this community-owned project to be developed.

The development of the affordable housing offers a mid-way point between social housing and open market housing, specifically targeted at local people on low incomes who have a direct connection and input to the community. Some units will be sold on a shared equity basis and the remainder, let to local people, will allow them to remain in an area where they might otherwise be priced out of the market. This proven need for affordable housing will increase as property prices start to move upwards.

This is a significant loan for Triodos and a flagship project within the scope of the new political landscape. It is a project we are delighted to be able to support, using our collective experience to get it off the ground. It has been a lengthy process getting to this stage, so all credit goes to HBCPT for its perseverance and proactive approach. We look forward to supporting more projects of this nature as the localism agenda really takes hold,’ said Charles Middleton, Triodos Bank’s UK managing director.

The Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) was one of a number of funders and community organisations involved in the project, investing £360,000 in the first phase of the development and working with the trust to get the project to this stage.

‘This project is evidence of what can be delivered when local people deliver a clear vision for their community and enlist the support of partners to make it happen. I’m delighted that we have been able to play our role in delivering this scheme and helping High Bickington lead the localism agenda, in a real and vivid way,’ said Colin Molton, HCA director with responsibility for investment in the South West.

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