New Guide Helps Communities To Develop Affordable Housing

The CRHA development on Bryher

The CRHA development on Bryher

The head of the housing association that has built 25 homes on four islands in Scilly is encouraging local people to “take charge of their own destiny” when it comes to affordable housing.

Peter Moore, who is the Chief Executive of Cornwall Rural Housing Association, is supporting a new guide, launched to help small councils and community groups tackle the rural housing crisis, and he’s sending a copy to our Council.

Peter says in his experience, the most successful affordable housing developments have been started by the local community, or councils working in close consultation with them.

And while the cost of building schemes in Scilly is high, because of the extra freight involved, Peter says there are a number of ways to reduce the overall expense.

He says self-building can work in some locations, and can bring the construction costs down to a third of the normal market level. That happened at their scheme in St Minver in Cornwall.

The guide helps anyone wanting to develop a housing scheme to “plot their way through the minefield” of bureaucracy involved, says Peter.

Cornwall Rural Housing has been a pioneer in developing so-called Community Land Trusts.

These are non-profit, community-based organisations run by volunteers to develop housing, workspaces or community facilities. The spaces can then be made available at permanently affordable levels using mechanisms like Section 106 conditions, or covenants that mean owners have to sell properties back to the housing association at a preset cost if they move.

Peter says it’s not possible to recommend any particular approach for Scilly, because every area is different and has its own needs. But he says he’d be happy to talk to islanders if they want advice on how to start an affordable housing scheme.

Cornwall Rural Housing has built and currently manages affordable homes on St Mary’s, St Agnes, St Martin’s and Bryher.

They’ve been in talks to develop the old secondary school site at Carn Thomas but Peter says that’s still under discussion with the Council.

And he says the planning problems with his association’s scheme, which have delayed the building of two new homes at Well Cross Yard, are “approaching resolution.”