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Tories have a dream for FTBs

Community land trusts were pioneered by the Levellers and backed by civil rights champion Martin Luther King.

The Conservatives have set up a special taskforce to investigate how community land trusts can help firsttime buyers.

Shadow housing minister Michael Gove is leading the initiative which is based on a model which has been championed by civil rights crusader Doctor Martin Luther King and the Levellers 17th Century group of British land revolutionaries.

Community land trusts allow land to be released for development and then owned permanently by a not-for-profit organisation, with homes built on the land being made available to new buyers at half the cost that they would normally pay.

Owners can sell on the properties in due course, benefiting from any increase in value, while the land remains in the hands of the community land trust.

Gove, who is MP for Surrey Heath, says he will assemble a team of lawyers, landowners, CLT pioneers, planners and local government leaders to explore barriers to the growth of the model and potential solutions.

CLTs help people with limited incomes get on the ownership ladder by allowing them to acquire an initial slice of the property, for example, by paying a fixed percentage of their income, and then increasing the level of ownership as and when circumstances change.

In the US, over 130 CLTs have been developed over the past 15 years. The first US trust was set up in 1967 by Martin Luther King to secure affordable land for black workers. The CLT model was inspired by the Levellers and the Diggers during the English Civil War and then taken up by the Chartists in the 19th Century, with the idea finally becoming a reality in 1903.

Gove says: “The sad fact is that the dream of homeownership really is just a dream for many who cannot ever imagine finding the money for their first deposit on a flat or house.

“But we believe that by following the example set by visionary pioneers such as Dr King that dream can become a reality for many more. That is why the Conservative Party is establishing a new taskforce to explore how we can bring down the barriers which stand in the way of this exciting route to ownership.”

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