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    Norton sub Hamdon Parish Council had carried out the preliminary stages of determining the need and finding a site for ten affordable homes in Norton.  Subsequently the project failed for various reasons, including the cessation of available funding from the Government.

    In late 2011 the Parish Council was informed by Wessex Community Assets (formerly Somerset, Devon and Dorset Community Land Trust Project) that, as a result of the Government’s Big Agenda and Community Involvement policies, funding could be made available from the Homes and Communities Agency for affordable housing projects which had a community input, through the formation of a Community Land Trust (legally a Community Benefit Society (CBS) or Industrial and Provident Society (IPS)).

    The Parish Council hosted a Public Meeting about the formation of a Community Land Trust (CLT) in February 2012, from which a Steering Group was formed to activate the procedure for registration as a CLT with the Financial Control Authority.  This was achieved in July 2012 and membership was invited.  Subsequently the Steering Group, at a General Meeting of Members was elected as the first Board of Directors of Norton sub Hamdon Community Land Trust Ltd.

    While the process of registration was progressing, the details for the submission of the planning application for ten affordable homes at Minchingtons Close were being put together.  This was the site and number originally proposed eight years previously, but with adjustments to the layouts to meet the objections of the existing residents of Minchingtons Close.  (There had been a public meeting at which the original plans were made public in 2005 and all objections raised had been dealt with, including possible issues with drainage and flooding.)

    Planning approval was granted in December 2012.  Although there was a very vociferous and unpleasant campaign of objection to the planning application, in fact it involved and was led by a very small group of residents.  A Parish Council bi-election held during the campaign of objection, at which one of the candidates stood specifically against the housing, clearly showed that the majority of the village supported the provision of affordable homes.

    Following grant of planning permission the CLT was consulted on issues of design, materials and other elements.  Most importantly we were instrumental in deciding what the “Local Connection Criteria” – the essential element in being eligible to live in one of the new homes – should be.

    Construction started in October 2013 and the homes are expected to be ready for occupation in the late summer of 2014.

    All the Board Members have always considered that, while the provision of the affordable homes was our first project, the wider vision of the CLT should be to enhance and sustain the character of Norton sub Hamdon – to help to ensure its long term economic and social sustainability.

    We have considered that, in the event of the Village Shop being threatened with closure, we should ensure that we do everything we can, given the powers invested in us as a Community Benefit Society, to investigate the feasibility and to support the formation of a Community Shop for the area of Norton and those surrounding communities who rely on it.