Home

Stonesfield Community Trust was the first Community Land Trust set up in Britain for the last 100 years - since Letchworth Garden City in 1903. It was registered as a charity in 1983 by three friends in West Oxfordshire in what had been a mining village in the 19th century, as rising house prices were threatening to narrow the age, social and economic range of the population.

It is a fate that has befallen villages all across the Cotswolds, as they have been bought up by middle-aged middle-class investors who don't need a village shop, don't need a bus service, don't need a primary school, don't need a pub, don't even need a church.

What the Trust has shown is that with the will, and a few people prepared to put in sustained effort on fund-raising and management, anything is possible, even to a quite small community. The concept of Community Land Trusts is now being promoted nationwide as a good way of taking land out of the market and into public ownership, thereby keeping housing cost permanently low.

The Americans picked up the idea years ago, and now have 200 of them running. One or two have taken over whole run-down areas of cities, renovating housing and selling it to low-income families for a basic investment of around $1,500 (£800). This gives them the right to leave the home to their children or, if they decide to move on, to recover their investment upgraded for inflation, plus the value of any improvements they have put in. It has become a way for low-income families to have pride of home ownership, and create a basic nub of capital in a society where that may be the only way of guaranteeing proper health care and security.

Interestingly, all of them put together only had two repossessions in the financial crash.