New Arrangements for Community Governance An Investigation
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New Arrangements for Community Governance: An Investigation into the Community Land Trust Model of Ownership Thomas Moore Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research, Sheffield Hallam University What is a Community Land Trust? • A non-profit community controlled organisation which seeks to control and manage assets for the benefit of the local community. • Main use of the model is to provide affordable housing in perpetuity. • The CLT owns the land, building and selling housing at rates that are affordable to their local community and imposing resale conditions to ensure the housing remains affordable for future generations. Policy Context • Estimated 40 - 50 CLTs in England and Wales. • Reflect the current agenda of community empowerment: – Citizen participation in decision-making (ODPM, 2005) – Community asset transfer (Quirk, 2007) – Strengthening the responsibility and influence of communities in political processes (DCLG, 2008) Policy Context • Growth of the CLT sector supported by central government • Housing Green Paper 2007. – Identified as a suitable mechanism to deliver affordable housing. • Taylor Review of Rural Affordable Housing. • Housing & Regeneration Bill 2008 - Legal definition • 'Community Land Trusts: A Consultation' (2008) – Investigating how CLTs operate and how best they can be supported. Theoretical Context: Asset-based Welfare • Capacity of low-income households to participate in society is highly constrained by a lack of capital or asset base. • Remedy is to increase their opportunities to benefit from asset-building, encouraging citizens to have "increased orientation towards the future, increased self-efficacy, increased civic participation, and improved welfare of offspring" (Sherraden, 2005) Theoretical Context: Asset-based Welfare • Thatcher - "A nation of home owners" • Discourses of independence, self-reliance, and the perceived benefits of a 'stakeholder society' have pervaded New Labour's approach to housing provision "…homes are not just places to live. They are also assets…Support for homeownership will enable more people on lower incomes to benefit from any further increases in the value of housing assets" (ODPM, 2005) CLTs and Asset-Based Welfare • CLTs aim to build citizen involvement, increasing access to affordable housing and harnessing local democracy. • But there are also some inherent collisions with the ideology underpinning the concept. • CLT housing not presented as a speculative capital investment in the same manner. • Seek to dampen the effects of the market through sharing market gains, rather than focusing on the individual benefits presented in the housing market. Theoretical Context: Communitarianism • The 'social glue' of communities has been eroded in favour of excessive market individualism. • Need to move beyond the outmoded right/left political divide, finding an alternative form of political organisation which stands against orientations towards both excessive individualistic and authoritarian politics. • The solution is the creation of a politics based on three guiding principles. Theoretical Context: Communitarianism • Co-operative enquiry – "Any claim to truth may be judged to be valid only if informed participants deliberating together under conditions of co-operative enquiry would accept that claim" (Tam, 1998: 13) • Common values and mutual responsibility – Core values relating to economic and social justice which should characterise the structure of local communities. • Communitarian power relations – The political process must be more democratic, engaging citizens in the development of any decision-making process which affects them, rather than power be distributed on the basis of economic power. Theoretical Context: Communitarianism • Balancing act between individual rights and social responsibilities. • Best way of harnessing these ideals is by creating decentralised units of governance, developing a culture of self-management, responsibility, and independence within local communities. • Similar ideas to those underpinning the ideology of housing policy. CLTs and Communitarianism • Where do CLTs and communitarianism meet? – CLTs attempt to reign in the effects of market individualism through preservation of affordable housing in perpetuity, addressing imbalances of economic and social power. – They recognise land as a common resource through which collective rather than individual gains should be sought. – They attempt to build forms of political organisation which encourage civic participation and social responsibilities, recognising local communities as the most effective site of governance for achieving social justice. Empirical Findings • Short electronic survey seeking to investigate the basic organisational structures of CLTs, their motivations and objectives, and barriers to development. • 22 surveys sent. 40% response rate. • All based in rural towns and villages across England, ranging from Cumbria to Cornwall. Empirical Findings • Variety of objectives: affordable housing, managed workspace, wider community facilities. • Motivations varied from a simple need for affordable housing to a desire to build an increased social and economic equality within their communities. • Distinct undercurrent of "taking control and responsibility for our own destiny." Empirical Findings • Enabling factors: – Drive of voluntary trustees and support of local communities. – Availability of land. – Support and assistance from those with expertise - for example, local professionals and RSLs. – Supportive local authorities, particularly with regards to provision of finance. • Barriers: – View that CLTs are being forbidden from "challenging the status quo". – Collisions of ideology between CLTs and authorities (HCA, planners, RSLs). – Difficulties in accessing finance. Future Research Questions • How do they operate with official bodies? – Partnership working. – Difficulties with planners, HCA, local authorities etc. • To what extent do the ideals of common values and mutual support and responsibility inform both those working on CLTs and those who live in the homes? • A wider social movement aimed at inclusivity and democracy, or simply a means to an end? • Do they succeed in creating more inclusive communities and restoring the ideal of community? Has 'power' and the notion of an 'inclusive dialogue' been equally distributed? Next Steps • Development of CLT typology. • Identification of case study sites. • Commencement of fieldwork later this year.