AGM on 9th Sept ’17

The Marshfield Community Land Trust held its first annual general meeting on Saturday, 9th Sept 2017, in the Church Hall at 11.00 a.m.

We ratified the election and re-election of directors; Simon Turner gave a report on the finances of the CLT: Christine Eden reported on the work we have been doing over the last few months.

Full details are in the minutes.


Spring ’17 Newsletter

Here’s an update on progress. The Crown has just come back on the market and we have some comments on that, too.

MCLT Progress Report

The CLT’s directors have been busy over the last few months and we’d like to give you an update.

Our focus has been on site selection. Finding a development site is probably the biggest challenge for a new CLT. This is particularly true in Marshfield. Land prices within the village boundary are sky high and outside the village development is constrained by the Green Belt and Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. In other parts of the country, CLTs have been gifted a site or have inherited a site already earmarked for development, but here we’ve not been so fortunate.

Site Selection Process

We started our site search by adopting a very thorough and systematic approach. First, using large scale maps and aerial photos, we identified every potential development site in and around the village and came up with a total of 31 sites.

Using the South Glos Council’s guidelines on searching for sites in rural communities we reviewed each of the 31 sites against a number of criteria (eg size, access, relationship to the settlement, level of anticipated community acceptance, etc). This enabled us to whittle down the number of sites to twelve.

We then applied additional, more detailed, criteria to these twelve sites (e.g. effects of possible development on traffic, parking, existing services, views in and out of the village, etc) and this gave us seven ‘front runners’.

We then had to see if the potential sites were available, so the next step was to approach the landowners. We wrote to each of the seven landowners in exactly the same terms and at the same time so that they were all treated fairly.

If a landowner showed interest we drew up a specially tailored “Heads of Terms’ document. This is a sort of route map for the landowner to consider, outlining how we would like to proceed. Currently we are in discussions with landowners on the basis of this document.

This phase has been very time consuming with visits to landowners, meetings to discuss Heads of Terms, site visits and, inevitably, numerous emails going backwards and forwards to deal with queries from both sides. The CLT has to work at the landowner’s pace and these negotiations are still ongoing.

Once a landowner agrees ‘Heads of Terms’ there will still be lots of work to do:

  • hold a public meeting to explain how we have searched for a site and obtain feedback on our findings;;
  • commission a feasibility study to look at all the possible constraints associated with the site (technical, financial, legal, etc) and come up with an outline scheme;
  • hold discussions with South Glos Council to determine whether planning consent is likely to be granted;
  • identify a partner housing association. The housing association will shoulder much of the technical and financial risk, while leaving us, the ultimate owners of the site, with a good measure of freedom to decide on the design of the homes and agree how they should be allocated to local applicants.

All these actions may have hidden pitfalls and we know that things are likely to take some time to come to fruition.

The Crown

In the meantime ‘The Crown’ has come onto the market yet again. We have looked into this in some detail but there are a number of concerns:

  • Redeveloping the Crown would be a risky undertaking and the CLT, the likely recipient of public funding, is obliged to be prudent and risk averse.
  • The CLT has no financial resources and a housing project in the Crown would not qualify for grants from the National Lottery or English Heritage.
  • Our well proven business model involves working in partnership with a housing association. Housing associations fight shy of redevelopment projects because costs are difficult to determine in advance.
  • If we use grant funding for a feasibility study on the Crown, we would not have that money to research a more deliverable project elsewhere.
  • There is a good chance that given that the Crown is within the development boundary and of interest to commercial developers, the CLT (which will not have the rural exception site price advantage) is likely to be outbid after putting energy and time into the purchase.
  • A further risk surrounds the possibility that change of use may not be forthcoming for a residential scheme.

The CLT will keep an open mind about opportunities involving the Crown but for the moment we intend to hold to our agreed priorities and pursue the currently more appropriate sites for affordable housing on our list.

 Learning from Experience

Experience over the last few months has forced MCLT board members to confront the many challenges involved in developing affordable housing. At times in the past some of us may have blithely said, in response to complaints about the national housing shortage, “Just build more houses!” Now we’re finding out that it’s not quite as simple as that. But with continuing professional advice from the Wessex CLT Project and strong support from the Parish and District Councillors we’re making good progress and are determined to succeed.


More news about other CLTs. We visited Hemyock today and met with people from the Upper Culm CLT. Hemyock is in the Blackdown hills, not far from Taunton, and is a little larger than Marshfield. Their CLT was formed in 2011 and their first development of affordable housing has won awards. They showed us round and it is very nice indeed – as you can see in the video below. They are now planning their second development.

It is interesting comparing notes with other CLTs. There are challenges we both have faced – like managing expectations and making sure that proposals meet with the approval of the community. There are some things that that went relatively easily for them but are not so easy for us – planning constraints on their village are much lighter than on Marshfield so site selection was easier. They also had a local developer who was trusted by the community and who helped in many ways. And there are some things that we have achieved that have not been so easy for them – like getting a good website up and getting the high numbers of people supporting us by becoming members.

One thing that surprises (and encourages) me is the growth in number of CLTs. The video clip, from a BBC Spotlight programme, shows how many CLTs there are in the far south-west. And here you can also see some of the CLTs affiliated to the UK-wide CLT umbrella group.

New board of MCLT directors

A new board of directors was elected at the special general meeting of the members of the MCLT on the 7th Dec ’16.  The MCLT chair (Christine Eden) provided a progress report and, as required by the rules, the initial set of 9 interim directors all resigned so that a new set could be elected by the members. Actually, it’s almost exactly the same people – it’s just that we have now been approved by the members. Howard Finnegan had to withdraw because of pressure of work. He will be missed.

Now we are eight.


Re-organised website

People told me that it was difficult to find information on the MCLT website. I guess that’s true. The website started off as a sort of stream-of-consciousness blog to publish as much information as I could, and as quickly as I could, as the CLT evolved. A tidy structure was not one of the site’s strong points.

So I have restructured it. The background information and stuff that is mostly static is now presented as pages that you can access through the multi-level menu at the top of each page. News and opinion continues to be posted as blog entries. They are flagged as belonging to one or more categories and you can see all entries of a specific category by using the category list in the right-hand side bar.

I think the site is much better now. Hope you agree.

Autumn newsletter

Here’s the latest MCLT newsletter. It is being distributed around the village in paper form and it is also available in pdf form here.

Finding a Site for Affordable Homes

Over the past few months we’ve considered all the possible sites in and around Marshfield for up to 15 affordable homes. We are now following up a small number of ‘front runners’. When (and if) we find a site that is suitable and available we will consult with the village at a public
meeting. We hope to gain a broad consensus in favour of the proposed site before going ahead with a planning application.

Join Up Now

Currently Marshfield CLT has 148 members. There will be a Special General Meeting at the Community Centre on Wednesday December 7th for members to elect a board of directors. If you want to vote, or stand for election, be sure to join up now. Select Participation/Membership in the menu at the top of this page or write to David Dodd (CLT Hon Sec) at the Tolzey Hall to receive your membership pack.

Who Will the Homes Be For?

The Marshfield Village Housing Survey, carried out in 2013, indicated that the priority need was for small (2 bedroom) homes for rent, particularly aimed at younger people. But we need to know present day requirements. If you would like to be considered for an affordable home, whatever your age or family circumstances, please register your interest by sending us an email (select Participation/Contact us in the menu at the top of this page) or by completing and sending the tear-off slip on the bottom of the paper version of this newsletter.

Housing Workshops

In the New Year we plan to hold one or more housing workshops to provide more information and enable people to put their name on the list for an affordable home – full details available soon. We look forward to meeting you.

Christine Eden, Chair
Oliver Shirley, Vice-chair

November 2016


Steering Group meeting on 3rd October ’16

Notes from this meeting are now available.

The next Steering Group meeting will be on 3rd Oct at 5.30 in the Tolzey Hall. Agenda:

2.    NOTES  OF LAST MEETING Aug 3 2016
2.1.    Amendments
2.2.    Matters arising:
3.1.    Board meetings
3.2.    Bank account
9.    WEB SITE