Public meetings in both Todmorden and Hebden Bridge this Saturday, September 27, will mark the launch of an innovative new community initiative which could help bring more affordable housing to the upper Calder Valley.
The idea of Community Land Trusts - community-led organisations which provide land upon which houses can be built to meet long-term community needs - has proved very successful in recent years in other parts of Britain.
The aim of the proposed new Calder Valley Community Land Trust, which will be established with charitable status, will be to work locally with other organisations to help provide homes for people within the community whose needs are not being met by the commercial property market.
Saturday’s meetings, at 10am at the Fielden Centre, Ewood Lane, Todmorden, and again at 11.30am at Hebden Bridge Town Hall, have been organised by the two community “town partnerships”, Todmorden Pride and Hebden Bridge Partnership.
The two bodies have been working together to help bring the Community Land Trust to the point of its launch. The CLT will develop, it is hoped, into one of the first initiatives which successfully works in both towns and which helps bring Todmorden and Hebden Bridge closer together.
“We’re very excited at the potential which we feel is there for an effective Community Land Trust in our valley,” says Simon Brearley, chair of Todmorden Pride.
“We hope on Saturday to be launching what will become over the a long-term a key part of our community life, able to play an active role in making our towns better places to live.”
The CLT will focus among other things on ways to create housing for young people leaving home for the first time, and older people looking for more sheltered accommodation.
As Andrew Bibby, secretary of Hebden Bridge Partnership, points out, Calderdale’s current strategy suggests that about 350 new houses in Hebden Bridge and about 900 houses in Todmorden will be needed in the years between now and 2030: “We know there’s a pressing housing need. How much better, though, if an accountable community-led charity can be involved in helping provide some of these homes, rather than leaving things entirely to commercial developers.”
“We’re keen not to see building if possible on greenfield sites, so this means being imaginative in using land which once had houses or industrial buildings. We are at a very early stage of our thinking, but we believe there may be possible sites where affordable housing could be developed in both our towns,” added Andrew.