Help is on the way for rural communities in Wiltshire seeking to get involved in planning the future of their towns and villages. The independent Wiltshire Community Land Trust (WCLT) has recently won a Big Lottery “Awards for All” grant to provide help and support for local communities embarking on Neighbourhood Plans, focusing on local housing problems and needs, and on the mechanisms they can use to ensure delivery. “This is a great opportunity to help local people get to grips with planning the future of their communities “, said WCLT Chair Trevor Cherrett. “ It will enable us to offer advice and guidance through one-to-one planning surgeries and workshops.” Following the very successful Wiltshire Neighbourhood Planning Roadshow organised by Community First in Devizes on the 16th March, WCLT already have several parishes lined up for advice sessions, and this funding will now be able to extend this support. The project will be in operation until March 2017, and the plan is to work closely with key independent bodies in Wiltshire, including Wiltshire Rural Housing Association, Community First, and Wiltshire Association of Local Councils, along with Wiltshire Council and Swindon Borough planning authorities. WCLT Board member Cllr Jonathon Seed, Wiltshire Council Cabinet Member for Housing, welcomed the initiative and offered the Council’s support. “Wiltshire Council is keen to address the County’s housing problems and we are equally keen to encourage local communities to get more involved”, he said; “We particularly endorse and support both the Community Land Trust ethos and the exciting work of Wiltshire Community Land Trust.”
Anyone interested in seeking help and advice on local planning, especially with regard to meeting affordable local housing needs, should contact WCLT members listed below:
Chair, Trevor Cherrett: firstname.lastname@example.org;
Vice-Chair, Philippa Read: email@example.com;
WCLT Project Support Officer, Anna Maloney: firstname.lastname@example.org
Community First’s Head of Development, Dave Potts, says: “Community First warmly welcomes the project. This fits in perfectly with our programme of support for rural communities in developing Neighbourhood Plans, and we will be working closely with the WCLT.” The WCLT has been promoting the idea of community–led approaches to local planning for several years, with funding support from the Wiltshire Rural Housing Association. “Community Land Trusts are taking off round the country now, especially since it has become so difficult to provide affordable housing for local needs” said Trevor. “The allocation of £60m in the Budget to help develop CLTs, especially in the South West is a welcome boost”. Community Land Trusts are not just about housing, however. Community shops, pubs, workspaces, nature conservation and play areas are examples of wider social and economic assets that can be developed by communities themselves.