A NEW solution to the housing crisis in Tavistock and elsewhere in West Devon has been suggested.

The town council has expressed an interest in the concept of community land trusts (CLT) which has been tried and tested throughout the South West, including Chagford.

The trusts not only provide homes, but can provide employment land, environment benefits such as wildlife habitats and play areas.

The concept is likened to the historic Bedford Cottages in Tavistock, an early form of social housing, but then provided by a large employer.

The town council is now developing a Tavistock Neighbourhood Plan, a grassroots local vision of what residents’ priorities are for the future.

Ursula Mann, town councillor and lead on the plan, said the major concern was providing affordable housing for working families in an area where local house prices are out of step with wages.

She and the neighbourhood plan steering group are looking at solutions for this, including CLTs, which provide land and housing at below market rates to rent, buy and share ownership, such as at Chagford.

The land at Chagford was provided for in West Devon Borough Council’s local plan.

Cllr Mann said: ‘We are looking at creative solutions to the shortage of affordable homes for families or a pathway to a final answer.

‘CLTs have the ability provide land aquired at below market cost, either by being given by a developer, or a philanthropic landowner and financed by debt, or grants or a major donation. The land would then have a planning restriction placed on it to ensure affordable homes are available for the long term and never attract a market value.

‘CLTs are therefore, just one of the options we are looking for as community-led housing developments to solve the big gap between earnings and property prices.

‘It’s not just to help people onto the housing ladder, but also for older people who might want to downsize from big houses which might not have kept up with the local market due to lack of investment. It would also help them afford bungalows or smaller flats. We need to provide a wider choice than is offered now.’

Cllr Mann added: ‘CLTs are modern day versions of the Bedford Cottages which provided people with everything that helped make their estates more than mere places to live. Then it was giving each house a piggery and somewhere to grow food. Today it might mean another form of model community. We just need passionate people to carry this forward.’