2019-20 Directors’ Annual Report


Saturday October 31 2020, 12.00 noon: Zoom meeting

Annual Report from MCLT Board of Directors 2019-20

1. The MCLT has now been in existence for 4 years and remains committed to promoting a confident and forward looking local community in Marshfield by developing new initiatives for community benefit. From its inception the Board identified three key areas of activity: providing affordable housing; developing other social and environmental initiatives, and encouraging community participation. Over the last year it has focussed on those activities relevant to delivering its affordable housing project and has also been exploring issues of energy use and efficiency that could benefit Marshfield.

2. At last year’s AGM we reported that we were working with architects and a range of consultants to develop a draft design for 12 affordable houses, of which 10 are for rent and 2 for shared ownership, on a site next to Garston Farm. This draft design was shown to the village at a consultation event in the Community Centre in November 2019. We received very strong support from people who attended the consultation and we submitted a planning application just before Christmas.

3 .The application was unusual in that it requested permission to build on a rural exception site which can only be considered for planning approval because it meets certain planning policy criteria. These include a requirement that the development be small scale and that homes will be for people in housing need with a local connection.

4. There followed a period of considerable activity as various questions were raised by the planners around issues that we had always known would need to be discussed in detail. In particular there were major concerns about the access from the A420, the relationship to the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the sewage water treatment system and the design of the houses. There was also considerable discussion about the energy efficiency of the housing design with South Gloucestershire Council strongly supporting the CLT’s desire to move to the internationally recognised low energy pasivhaus standards.

5. The application received a powerful endorsement from Marshfield community with 79 letters of support and just 2 letters of objection from local residents.

6. In May 2020 we were delighted to receive planning permission, in principle. As expected, approval is conditional on MCLT agreeing a Section 106 with South Gloucestershire Council. This will address issues such as the various requirements associated with access to the site, the affordable housing and the local connection criteria.  We hope to complete these various legal processes by early November, 2020.

7. The process of securing contractors to build the site has already begun and  detailed informationhas been sent out to a shortlist of 5 contractors. If all goes well we would hope that contractors could be on site within the next 3 to 4 months.

8. The building process is managed, both in terms of the construction and financing, by our partner housing association, United Communities. MCLT has worked very closely with Caroline Massey from United Communities who is very committed to our project. She is the main contact with our financial partners, South Gloucestershire Council and Homes England, who are providing grant support for the project. South Gloucestershire Council have also supported us in our desire to build to pasivhaus standards for which MCLT have been very grateful.  We have also been grateful for the continued high level of technical support we have received from Steve Watson and the Wessex CLT project.

9. The allocation of these houses will be in accordance with ‘local connection’ criteria agreed by MCLT. Applicants will need to register with South Gloucestershire Council’s HomeChoice to verify their need for affordable housing. The scheme is on target to achieve its aims of charging social rents.

10. The CLT energy working group has continued to explore energy use and the possibility of having greater community control through emerging technologies. Such debates involve complex issues such as exploring possibilities for generating local green energy on a sufficiently large scale to provide a large proportion of the village’s  needs. The group has contributed to discussions about energy sustainability in relation to the Community Centre and the affordable housing project and has been exploring issues associated with fast charging provision for electric cars. The EWG have made links with the new climate emergency team in South Gloucestershire and other groups across the country with similar objectives. The group are very keen to hear from anyone interested in joining them to help take issues around sustainable energy forward.

11. The Board wishes to thank all who have supported the Trust over the years it has taken to acquire a site and get planning permission. This could not have been achieved without support from the Parish Council, our District Councillors Steve Reed and Ben Stokes, our members and Marshfield community. Thank you all.

12. The MCLT Board is very keen to hear from anyone with ideas about potential future developments that would benefit Marshfield. This can cover a wide range of possibilities, not just housing projects .Please get in touch if you have any –however vague- ideas to chat about.

The MCLT Board:  Christine Eden, Chair; Oliver Shirley, Vice-chair; Simon Turner, Treasurer; Vicky Williams, Secretary; Jim Brookes, Ian Dawes, Ian Jones, Ros Snow .

October 2020