Our CEO Steve Hoey who is also Chair of Community Land Trust Network board of trustees reflects on his visit to Brussels for a meeting exploring the future of a Europe-wide community land trust network.
In late April I had the pleasure of representing the Community Land Trust Network at a two-day get-together in Belgium. Sponsored by the Laudes Foundation and co-facilitated by Space and Matter, and And The People and CLT Brussels (CLTB), the meeting brought together a group of around 15 of us to discuss the development of a Europe-wide CLT Network. I connected with colleagues from Ireland, Scotland, the Netherlands, London, France, Poland, Slovenia, Germany and Belgium.
It is inspiring to see how many homes and schemes CLTB has already succeeded in creating, over a number of years, and it was brilliant to meet so many lovely people who are involved in the movement in Europe. Despite no longer being in the European Union, our England and Wales network was welcomed as we are still geographically part of Europe, and we have been involved in these discussions for some time.
We talked about the opportunities and barriers to forming a European CLT network, and although I am far from an expert on EU law or policy, I was able to share a lot of ideas and good practice from our growing CLT network in England and Wales and the movement it represents. In fact, our 300+ membership is larger than the number of CLTs in the whole of the rest of Europe combined, so we are quite a bit further down the road and have lots of learning to share.
The affordability of housing, the scarcity of available land, the desire to remove housing from the speculative market, and the climate crisis are all shared concerns across the CLT family in Europe. We talked about the challenges of working in different countries and local political situations, finance issues including mortgages for different tenures, the journeys of residents and community groups, and common macro factors like supply chain and planning issues. I was amazed at how much we all had in common.
The CLT Network in Europe is getting bigger and moving towards forming an umbrella representative body. We in the UK can be encouraged that the CLT idea is taking root and growing in the rest of Europe. We will continue to stay in touch with them all to help and advise them in any way we can, and I know there are many examples of good practice around Europe that will inspire us as we continue with our work here at home.
Click the link to learn more about the Sustainable Housing for INclusive and Cohesive Cities (SHICC) Project, which started these conversations and watch this space for more European CLT news!
Original blog written for the Community Land Trust Network.