Support for £60m development fund

Geoff Pook

Geoff Pook - Credit: Archant

The chairman of an affordable housing scheme in Beer has backed proposals by the Government to invest money in similar initiatives across the country.

Chancellor George Osborne announced in his budget last week that he would provide £60million of funding for community-led development in rural and coastal areas. He also revealed that £20million would be spent in the South West.

The fund would benefit projects like Beer’s Little Hemphay development, which is part of the Beer Community Land Trust (CLT).

Geoff Pook, chairman of the Beer CLT, said that building more ‘affordable’ housing would have a ‘massive impact’ on the national housing need for families who had been priced out of the communities they grew up in.

Mr Pook said: “This announcement appears to be one step to positively support community groups and CLTs. Many small towns and villages do not want or need masses of houses.”

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Beer CLT built seven affordable homes for people with a connection to the village - either through residency, family or work - to either buy or rent.

Mr Pook added: “Making housing affordable to young people who have grown up and work in these areas is essential if we are going to achieve sustainable communities with the social cohesion to look after the whole community from the youngest to the oldest.”

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The CLT opened in February last year after receiving a £1million loan from East Devon District Council and a £200,000 grant from the Homes and Community Agency.

The seven properties were available to either buy or rent and owners of the new homes can resell them back to the CLT, if they decide to move.

Mr Pook said that the Chancellor’s announcement had yet to clarify whether the money would be grant or loan funding.

He added: “Community-built and managed housing schemes, although individually small, when multiplied up by the number of potential villages, can have a massive impact on the national housing need.

“Not only developing houses, but increasing local employment and stimulating social cohesion, which itself can have a dramatic effect on the long-term social welfare and wellbeing of the community.”

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