Trailblazing Northumberland Trust’s work held as example

Minister for the cabinet office Francis Maude MP with Tom Johnston, Glendale Gateway Trust director, in Wooler.
Minister for the cabinet office Francis Maude MP with Tom Johnston, Glendale Gateway Trust director, in Wooler.

Trailblazing work on a north Northumberland housing project has been applauded in national research which calls for more funding so others can follow its example.

Glendale Gateway Trust, based in Wooler, is one of just 10 projects chosen to feature in the national research by Locality, which underlines that when it comes to community-led housing, small is beautiful – and very successful.

Community organisations like Glendale Gateway Trust can and should be building their own housing, the national network of ambitious and enterprising community-led organisations stresses, after its new research found that small-scale housing is a lynchpin community activity which leads to many other local benefits.

The research, which examined the work of 10 community-led housing organisations in England, was published in a report, Understanding the Potential of Small Scale Community-led Housing, which was launched last week.

Locality is also backing its own housing members to lead a new drive around grassroots support for start-up groups.

Chief executive Tony Armstrong said: “Glendale Gateway Trust is a brilliant example of a small-scale, community-led housing group which works away quietly behind the scenes, bringing huge benefits to their area.

“This approach is very much in tune with our own Keep it Local campaign, which calls for public services to be commissioned and delivered at a local level, and we are backing our own members, including Glendale Gateway Trust, to lead a new drive around grassroots support for start-up groups who want to do their bit to end the housing crisis and help their own communities to benefit.

“What’s needed now is a new, long-term approach to funding these groups as they can lead to fantastic outcomes and become an integral part of building the affordable housing this country so badly needs.”

The breadth of the added value in terms of contribution to different regenerative activities was described in the research report as ‘outstanding’.

This included everything from increased volunteer hours to increased economic activity and pointed to the clear need for a ‘value for money’ criterion to be included in the assessing of funding applications to take account of social impact.

The research, Understanding Small Scale Community Led Housing, was produced by Jo Gooding and Tom Johnston and funded by Locality and the Federation of Northumberland Development Trusts. Copies can be downloaded at www.locality.org.uk

Early this year, Glendale Gateway Trust had let all nine of its affordable homes at the Wheatsheaf building on High Street and Roddam Dene House (formerly West Mansfield House) developed with Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) empty properties funding.

The Trust set up a Community Bond Scheme, which raised £128,000, to help finance the scheme.

It followed the successful delivery of the four new housing units (library housing and 16 & 17 Butler Court) with HCA funding.