Review of the Urban Community Land Trust Project

Principal Investigator:

Tom Moore


Community land trusts (CLTs) in England and Wales have grown significantly in recent years. The National CLT Network estimate that the sector has grown six-fold in the last six years, with over 225 CLTs formed to tackle a range of housing issues, including affordability problems, empty properties, local needs housing, and wider neighbourhood regeneration. A significant aspect of this growth has been the rise of urban CLTs. While much of the initial CLT activity in England was concentrated in rural areas, in recent years a number of urban CLTs have formed to deliver and improve the supply of affordable housing in their area. Others have arisen to contest large-scale urban renewal programmes by acting as vehicles for community-led regeneration and stewardship of wider local assets. Urban CLTs have emerged in areas of worsening housing affordability, in disinvested neighbourhoods affected by regeneration, and in areas where ownership of community assets beyond housing is a key objective. Urban CLTs have emerged as grassroots community-led campaigns, as well as state-led policy experiments. This suggests that CLTs in urban areas have a broad and diverse range of motivations, objectives and aspirations.

The emerging body of research on urban CLTs has explored the factors that enable and constrain CLT development. While highlighting the unique contribution that CLTs can make through their local accountability, responsiveness to local needs, and democratic structures, these studies have also highlighted challenges related to funding constraints, reliance on the state and on volunteers, and different conceptions as to how the sector can expand through ‘scaling up’ and ‘scaling out’.

Yet, the context in which CLTs are operating has changed since the majority of this research was conducted. While the problems of a dysfunctional housing market remain, with problems of affordability, supply and dereliction continuing to confront different urban communities, a range of interventions have presented new opportunities for CLTs. Funding through ‘Power to Change’ and the Government’s new ‘Community Housing Fund’ have injected significant funds into the sector. Local authorities including Bristol, Leeds, the Greater London Authority, and Cambridgeshire are actively enabling and encouraging CLT development in their localities. CLTs also continue to be eligible for funding through various Government-backed Affordable Homes Programmes that are open to social housing providers. Finally, the National CLT Network’s technical and financial support to 20 urban CLT demonstration projects has provided a stimulus to the development of CLTs in urban communities across the country.

This project focusses upon a research study into the impacts of the Urban CLT Project and seeks to contribute to a critical understanding of the prospects for future development of urban CLTs and programmes that seek to support them.


National Community Land Trust Network