The Church of England’s “Coming Home” report on Housing, Church and Community, commissioned by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York was published this February.
The report mirrors what Community Land Trusts (CLT’s) up and down the country are saying about the housing crisis and the need for truly affordable homes.
ACCLT’s Linda McCanna spoke to Charlie Arbuthnot the report’s chair about the importance of the report and its recommendations.
Firstly, Charlie explained that the report’s “Coming Home” title was based on the 1966 BBC television play ‘Cathy Come Home’ directed by Ken Loach, which exposed Britain’s chronic housing crisis. Clearly that crisis is still with us with around 8 million people in England living in overcrowded, unaffordable, or unsuitable homes.
“For too many people, our vision for good housing falls far short of their reality. Their homes and communities are unsustainable, unsafe, unstable, unsociable and unsatisfying. We can and must do better”. What has been missing is a positive vision of what good housing looks like”.
As well as the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby’s motion to the Church of England General Synod, that “addressing housing need and strengthening communities is an integral part of the mission and ministry of the Church of England” the church is also determined to address the legal and institutional barriers to using church land for social and environmental benefit and expects to see more truly affordable homes being built on church land.
Interestingly the report highlights the vital work of CLT’s and the need for more land to be unlocked or gifted to CLT’s who are well placed to deliver affordable homes in the community.
“It all started with six meetings organised by Keswick Churches Together about issues facing the town. Housing kept coming up in these discussions: people who were born there and now worked in the town could not afford to live there, with the majority of houses being sold as second homes or holiday lets. When the local church offered the community a piece of land next to the graveyard, a small group of committed volunteers started the hard work of forming a Community Land Trust, commissioning an architect and securing planning permission and funding. The development of 11 homes at St John’s Church was followed by three more developments, providing homes for local families that are truly affordable and will remain so in perpetuity.”
This is the clarion call of all CLT’s – for affordable homes to remain asset locked for their communities.
The church has also appointed its first Bishop for Housing, Guli Francis-Dehqani who takes up her post this April. ACCLT welcomes the appointment of a designated Bishop for Housing.
The report goes on to state “this crisis will not be solved without Government action. Instead of the short-term initiatives implemented by successive governments, it is time for a bold, coherent, long-term housing strategy, focused on those in greatest need”.
“The housing crisis will not be solved without a willingness on behalf of all actors in the housing market – homeowners, landlords, developers, landowners and government – to share this burden”.
The Commission is engaging with Gail Mayhew, a member of the Government’s Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission, Knight Frank and the Prince’s Foundation, who have set up the Stewardship Initiative and are creating a Stewardship Kitemark.
The Kitemark will be awarded to developers that meet a high standard for good land development, something that I am sure CLT’s would welcome and which is aligned with the Commission’s five core values that good housing should be sustainable, safe, stable, sociable and satisfying.
The C of E commission believes developers should balance the environmental and social, as well as the financial benefits, of new development.
For Government and other actors in the housing market, it recommends:
· The development of a long-term, cross-party housing strategy to improve the quality and sustainability of the existing stock and increase the supply of truly affordable new housing.
· A review of housing support and restoration of Local Housing Allowance to median rents in each local area
· Maximising the use of public land for affordable housing to achieve long-term social and economic value
· Greater protection for private sector tenants, including longer-term security of tenure and a duty of care on all landlords including the removal of Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions
· A commitment to improve and reduce the need for temporary accommodation
· A commitment to remove unsafe cladding on all residential blocks and fully protect leaseholders from remediation costs
· Landlords should ensure that the voices of their tenants are heard, considered and acted upon
The Christian church has delivered on affordable housing in the past through movements such as Quaker alms-houses, the Peabody Trust and the Guinness Trust. It is positive that the church is stepping up again to engage in today’s housing challenges.
There is much that CLT’s can celebrate in this report and the partnering opportunities it offers. ACCLT will be looking to realise those opportunities. We agree wholeheartedly with the report’s statement that:
“a good home is a place that enables us to live in harmony with the natural environment, it is a place where we feel safe, it is affordable and enables us to put down roots and feel part of a community. It is a place that we enjoy living in and delight to come home to”.
Copies of the report and executive summary can be found on the Coming Home website:
Charlie Arbuthnot and Matthew Corbett director at L&Q Foundation Inside Housing:https://www.insidehousing.co.uk/insight/insight/the-benefits-of-collaboration-between-the-church-and-housing-associations-69221