Oxfordshire Community Land Trust has announced that its first-ever Community Share Offer has, in just 9 weeks, raised over half of its target investment, but Oxford’s pioneering community-led housing initiative is now at risk of not hitting 100% of its funding target before the offer closes on 28 February 2023.
What does that mean?
Crofts Court in Dean Court, Cumnor Parish, just west of Oxford, is OCLT’s first development that will provide 8 much-needed community-led affordable homes for those on the Vale of White Horse housing list and with a strong local connection. It is fully funded, with a grant of £904,000 from the Vale of White Horse BC and Future Oxfordshire Partnership and a variable rate mortgage of £1.1 million from Ecology Building Society.
The building is going well, and the roof went on before Christmas. It is still on schedule to be completed by around June, and once the selected residents from the Vale of White House housing list have settled in, OCLT hopes to invite members and investors to come and see for themselves how community-led housing can really be of benefit.
A spokesperson for the Trust said: “Oxford is one of the most unfair and unaffordable places in the country when it comes to housing. Local people, key workers and those who keep our city moving and working are priced out. We don’t need more market homes – we need more genuinely affordable homes first.
“It’s taken a remarkable amount of work so far to speak to every, and any, sympathetic organisation, appear on local news and radio, flyer drop at relevant events and encourage all their friends, family, and supporters to spread the word and invest if they are able to.”
However, to borrow a famous footballing phrase, “it’s a game of two halves”, and they’ll need an extra push to reach the target in time.
It’s more important than ever as there is no sign of interest rates declining and, whilst the development is fully funded, being able to pay off a large part of the variable rate loan will mean a more cost-effective development that will enable them to start to bring forward a second affordable housing site soon.
“There is an opportunity for social investors and organisations to step in and help make dreams come true for the City of Dreaming Spires by taking a stake in fairer, more sustainable housing for Oxfordshire and demonstrating that this form of community housing can be scaled up across the country.”, added the spokesperson.
The Trust is offering Community Shares at a value of £1.00 – offered in multiples of 250 – with a minimum investment of £250 and a maximum of £50,000, and will carry a target maximum interest rate of 3%*.
Investors can visit ethex.org.uk/invest/OCLT.
More information on the Trust’s work can be found at oclt.org.uk.
OCLT is run by volunteers. It will continue to depend on the generosity of grant funders and donors until they have a big enough portfolio of permanently affordable homes to generate a small income to support an office.