Leeds HMO Lobby


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Kept in the Community

1 Problem
The communities in Inner North West Leeds, especially in and around Headingley, see their basic land and property resources under continuous threat from market forces.
· Community Assets, like LCC’s Headingley Annexe on North Lane, are proposed for disposal on the market, as surplus to requirements: a property like this could be a great asset to the local community, as workspace in general, or for the management of Central Headingley in particular.
· Housing is continually haemorrhaging from owner-occupation to the private rented sector, as a result of the over-inflated property market and PRS demand: less and less affordable housing for families remains, increasing the demographic imbalance, and undermining sustainability.
· Green Spaces, like the Mission Land by St Oswald’s, also come up for disposal: there is little enough green space in Headingley, and left to the market, such spaces are inexorable developed for intensive (not family) housing.

2 Possibilities
Government policy in general professes to be supportive of communities: the motto of the ODPM is Creating Sustainable Communities. A new ODPM Five Year Plan is entitled Sustainable Communities: People, Places and Prosperity (the subtitle is significant). It is accompanied by a ‘Daughter Document’, Citizen Engagement & Public Services: Why Neighbourhoods Matter – one of the options proposed here is ‘neighbourhood ownership and management of community assets.’ Currently, a number of models for such investment are available, neither public nor private (intermediate models, a ‘third way’).
· Community Land Trusts: these are well developed in USA, and developing in UK (the GLA has just published a Report on the role of CLTs in providing affordable housing).
· Community Development Trusts: these have their own Association and website at <www.dta.org.uk>
· Community Interest Companies: these have been proposed by the Companies (Audit, Investigations and Community Enterprise) Act, which received Royal Assent on 28 October 2004 (see CIC Homepage on the DTI website).
A conference organised by the University of Salford on Capturing Asset Value: the mechanisms of Community Land Trusts is forthcoming at the University of Warwick on 17 March 2005.

3 Proposal
Leeds HMO Lobby proposes that the possibilities of these models of community investment be explored as solutions to the problems presented to Inner NW Leeds. In particular, the Lobby proposes that the Area Committee establish a Feasibility Study to examine the options and make recommendations. A number of avenues are possible.
a) A Study set up by the Committee itself, comprising councillors and community: this would be responsive to local interests, but may well lack sufficient time and expertise.
b) A Study commissioned by the Committee, perhaps from one of the universities: this should provide the required expertise, but would be costly.
c) A Study undertaken or commissioned by Leeds City Council, as doubtless similar concerns are experienced in other parts of the city: this should be of value to the city as a whole, though perhaps less specifically so to Inner NW Leeds.

Leeds HMO Lobby, 7 February 2005


Leeds HMO Lobby
email: hmolobby@hotmail.com website: www.hmolobby.org.uk/leeds