The Knaresborough Community Land Trust (KCLT), launched in November last year, is celebrating after successfully applying for funds from the charitable trust, Power to Change.
While helping cover the costs of engaging with the community, it will also help pay for pre-development expenses for its affordable housing plans. While it's still 'just the start,' for the trust, says Chair of the KCLT Emma Walsh, construction of its first rental properties at the old air raid shelter could be completed next year.
She said: "We are overwhelmed at the support of the community and outside, so far. It's a real boost to know we have that funding. Things have progressed in a way that a year ago we wouldn't have thought possible. To say we are happy is a massive understatement, we really are as a board so delighted to look towards delivering this for the town."
"This is just the start, we still have some other projects we are going to progress but what this is enabling us to do is show how we can leverage money from outside the area to really focus on that need we have identified in Knaresborough."
She added: "It means we will be able to quickly start developing properties, and all going well, we'll have the first ones available in 2020."
The formation of the trust can be traced to the town's Neighbourhood Development Plan, a legal document which could be consulted on through to 2035 when applications are submitted to build on sites in the town. During production of this, it was identified that more affordable housing was needed in Knaresborough.
Government funding is in place to help address this issue across the country, with Harrogate Borough Council receiving Â£585,000 in 2017 to promote community led housing schemes in the district. The Â£50,000 cost of the Trust's first housing site was financed through this.
Because it was able to evidence a 'clear plan,' and with the support of the district council, KCLT says it was able to secure this additional source of funding.
Emma said: "It's a substantial grant that we have received, and its shown what we can achieve for Knaresborough."
The trust has said it's aiming to see 'decisions on the housing scheme put in to the hands of Knaresborough residents,' and that it wishes to see its membership grow.
The need for the community to get involved in shaping the future of the scheme is clear, says Emma: "In terms of what we are going to do with the housing, that's what we want to build on with our members. This is why it's absolutely critical that the community is part of building that plan, and shaping what we are going to do next."
"For our first one, it's aimed at people with a connection to the town in particular we want to identify those who work in Knaresborough but are unable to live here. Whether that's because of prices being too high, or there isn't the right of kind of housing available."
She added: "People have really got behind us, but we are going to need more members to shape what we are doing in the future."
Anyone who is 16 years old or over, lives, works or studies in the Knaresborough area or surrounding villages can join. Membership is free, although the trust has said donations are welcome. Voting is based on a ‘one member one vote’ system.
To find out more about the Knaresborough Community Land Trust click here