Residents in South Lakeland will benefit from a major community-led housing scheme announced by the Government today (23 December 2016).
A new annual £60 million fund will help almost 150 councils across the country tackle the problem of high levels of second homeownership in their communities. Approximately one fifth of properties in South Lakeland are second homes and the Government.
The Community Housing Fund will put local groups in the driving seat and help them deliver affordable housing aimed at first-time buyers in response to the problem second homes can cause in reducing supply.
Councillor Ben Berry, Leader of South Lakeland Conservatives, welcomed the news saying: “This is a another example of our Conservative Government building County that works for everyone by taking a pragmatic approach to increase housing supply right where we need it. I look forward to working hard with our communities and the National Park Authorities to make sure South Lakeland District Council use this new fund efficiently and expeditiously to benefit local people."
Second home ownership in England is at an all-time high and is crowding out first time buyers and causing a shortage of available properties. Often second homes stand empty for a large proportion of the time which can also affect community cohesion, affect the demographics of an area and distort local housing markets.
Housing Minister Gavin Barwell said:
“The high number of second homes can be a frustration for many who struggle to find an affordable home in their community.
“This new fund will help tackle that by boosting supply and make sure community groups are at the heart of delivering new homes so that this is a country that works for everyone
"I saw for myself the great work community land trusts do on a recent visit to Cornwall and we want them to do much, much more.”
The funding will be targeted at the community-led housing sector and distributed to groups via local councils who know their area’s needs best.
Allocating the funding to these housing organisations will put communities centre stage in deciding what type of housing is most needed. It will also offer an income stream to community organisations, in turn allowing them to reinvest in more housing or in other activities or services which will benefit their area.
Catherine Harrington, Director of the National Community Land Trust Network said:
“We are delighted that the government is backing community-led housing with this new fund. Every few days a new community-led housing provider forms to take housing into their own hands, providing homes that are affordable to local people. This fund could triple the 3,000 homes that Community Land Trusts alone already have in the pipeline.”
Local authorities will work closely with community-led housing groups and other stakeholders - such as the Community Land Trusts network or the Home and Communities Agency - throughout to ensure the right tools are in place to ensure efficient delivery of new houses in subsequent years.