Owning and Developing Land for the Benefit of the Community

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Community Land Trusts

Community Land Trusts-or CLTs-are democratic, nonprofit organizations that own and develop land for the benefit of the community.

They typically provide affordable homes, community gardens, civic buildings, shops, shared workspace, energy schemes, and conservation landscapes.

Run by ordinary people. They are community organizations run by ordinary people who want to make a difference in their local community, putting control of assets into the hands of local people.  They can be set up by the community or a landowner, developer, or jurisdiction.

Protecting community assets forever. They ensure that their homes are permanently and genuinely affordable. CLTs act as long-term stewards of the land and the assets on it. They ensure that it is put to the benefit of the local community, not just for now but for every future occupier.

A worldwide movement. Starting in the United States, CLTs are now a worldwide movement.  In both urban and rural areas, CLTs are a key part of the future of the land, affordable housing, and community facilities.



People set up and join CLTs for all sorts of different reasons.

Lack of affordable housing. There might be a lack of affordable homes for young people or families in the town or neighborhood. Maybe local people are having to move out of the place they call home because of rising prices and the community wants to do something about it.

Turning around local areas. Or it might be that the area has suffered years of decline and disinvestment leaving empty properties and blight, and the community wants to bring homes back into use and turn their neighborhood around.

Shaping their local area, long term. Or maybe a landowner or developer wants to vest the public facilities and green space in their new development into a trust.  The CLT can steward them for the long term and continue to develop the place long after the developer has built their last home.

In all these cases, the community wants to make their area a better place to live, and they want more control over how that happens.


Legal structure of CLTs

CLTs are not a legal form in themselves (like a company).  However, CLTs are defined in law, which means there are certain things that a CLT must be and do:

A CLT must be set up to Benefit a defined local Community

“Local community means the Individuals who live or work, or Want to live or work in a Specified place.

A CLT must be not-for-profit

This means that they can, and should, make and surplus as a community business, but that surplus must be used to Benefit the community.       

Local people must be able to join the CLT

Members must have a controlling vote in Annual General Meetings and the Board, though other stakeholders can be included in the governance.

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