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Community land trust will create cheaper housing

St Clements will be redeveloped Pic: Robin Webster

London’s first community land trust project is to be based at St Clements hospital in east London .

During a meeting on Monday The London Board of the Homes and Communities Agency approved the selection of a preferred bidder for the redevelopment of St Clements hospital in Mile End, which has been derelict for eight years. City Hall released a statement saying: “With the freehold of the site held in trust for the local community we can ensure full participation from the local community in the redevelopment proposals”.

The chosen bidder, the East London Community Land Trust, is a group of one thousand local residents who hoped to develop and buy the site. Their role is yet to be finalised.

Dave Smith, Project Director of ELCLT said: “The East London Community Land Trust is wholly committed to community-led regeneration on the St Clements Hospital site.  And the promise of permanently affordable homes, designed and owned by the local community, has moved one step closer to being realised today.

“There is some further work to be done with the preferred development partner, in order to clarify the proposals for a Community Land Trust within their proposed scheme, following the HCA Board’s decision. But we approach this with enthusiasm and optimism, as well as a sense of purpose and steadfast principle.  We anticipate a joint announcement to be made in due course.”

The project is based on a US model and will allow a number of Tower Hamlets residents, one of the most deprived boroughs in the country, to buy and design the houses built on the site at a low price.

If The East London Community Land Trust’s original plans are implemented, a collective of 1,000 east Londoners hope to buy the site, develop it, and sell some of the homes they build to locals at a cheaper rate than normal for the area. Around 200 of the 300 properties on the site will be sold at their full value, and the profit from this will be used to subsidise the cheaper homes.

If the project is a success, there are hopes that it will be replicated across the country as a potential solution to spiralling house prices. Community Land Trusts were part of London Mayor Boris Johnson’s manifesto, though this is the first project involving one that has been approved, and the Mayor’s four year term will shortly be coming to an end.

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