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Community Land Trusts in Europe:

Building common ground across Europe towards a transnational movement

Brussels, 4 December 2020 | Published in Social, Future of the EU & Housing

Since the 2000s, the Community Land Trust (CLT) Movement has grown from a handful to more than 170 urban CLTs created or under creation in Europe; with an objective of 500 urban CLTs, 7,000 homes for 21,000 people housed over the next years.

CLTs have proven a viable model that provides permanently affordable housing and  fosters  participation. They have demonstrated tremendous  resilience thanks to their strong sense of community are needed now more than ever in this arduous period of pandemic. As part of the Interreg  SHICC programme,  the European CLT Movement organised an online  EU policy event on December 4 to take stock of the emergence of  a  European CLT Movement and its relevance to the EU policy agenda. Acknowledging the need to encourage  and  support  initiatives  for adequate  housing, this  event promoted stronger  political  engagement  from European stakeholders to support CLTs, encouraging them to collaborate and coordinate their efforts to foster the rise of the CLT Movement in Europe. Today, we are at a turning point where we need to scale up the model in order to achieve systematic impacts and address the current housing crisis. This is why the CLT Movement asks for improved knowledge and recognition, adapted regulations at the local, national and EU level, as well as sustainable funding.

Executive Summary of the Event: 

This key event gathered more than 150 participants from the housing sectorand high-level speakers from all over the continent to discussCLT development (1). After awarm welcome from Pascal Smet (Member of the CoR and Secretary of State for Urban Planning and European Relations of the Brussels-Capital Region), Geert de Pauw, coordinator of the CLT Brussels and pioneer of the EU CLT Movement, took the floor to present the model and its dissemination in Europe (2).

De Pauw's description was complementedby two members of the London CLT (Costa Christou, Lead Campaigner, and Razia Khanom, Board Member) and a representative of the Municipality of Amsterdam (Jeroen van der Waal, Strategic Policy Advisor for Circular Built Environment) who showcased how CLTs are meeting current EU priorities on social cohesion and inclusive cities and have the potential to function as a catalyst towards fair and just circular neighbourhoods. This first session shed light on the model’s social, economic, environmental added values. Speakers notably presented feedback from field experience, on the involvement and empowerment of residentsin Lambeth Borough (London) and the inclusion of the model in circular neighbourhooddevelopment in Amsterdam.  These inspiring speeches have been backed by the commitments of public authorities’ representatives. Highlightinghow national governmentsare supporting the model in the United Kingdom and France,we welcomed Tom Chance(Co-chief Executive, National CLT Network of England and Wale) and (Jean-Marie Quéméner, Head of the Development Office, Ministry for Housing, France) who presented how Community Housing Fund enabled CLTsto thrive in the UKand how a robust legal and financial frameworksupports a dynamic development of French OFS. 

At the local level, insights from the City of Lille (Caroline Lucats, Head of the Housing Department), Ghent (Tine Heyse, Deputy Mayor) and Amsterdam (Salomé Galjaard, Deputy Programme Manager Circular Economy) contributed to prove the case for CLTs and showed how they can be mobilised as part of localhousing and urban policies through innovative public-civic partnerships.

”It soon became very clear that when the creation and allocation of housing is left solely to the market people lose out, especially those withminority backgrounds” Costa Christou (Lead Campaigner) & Razia Khanom(Board Member), London CLT

“CLTs provide a platform for neighbourhood-led development and other ownership models which are key for a just transition to a circular economy” Salomé Galjaard, City of Amsterdam

EU representatives then contributed to detail howCLTshave been recognisedand fit in the current EUagenda. Sorcha Edwards (Secretary General, Housing Europe) introduced the session presenting the EU context and challenges.Kim van Sparrentak(MEP) presented her Parliament Report on the ''Decent and Affordable Housing for All'' to be votedonnext January. Apanel discussion gathering representatives of the European Commission (Thomas de Béthune, Policy Coordinator, Team Leader for Urban Policy, DG Regional Affairs and Océane Peiffer-Smadja, Policy Officer, DG Growth) and financiers (Brendan McDonagh, Adviser, European Investment Advisory Hub, EIB) then enabled the audience to better grasp how EU institutions could legally and financially support the movement. In conclusion, Michael LaFond (Chair of the Advisory Board, CLT Berlin) presented the recent achievements of the SHICC projectwhich has just won the RegioStars 2020 Awardin the category “Citizens’ engagement for cohesive cities” and the next steps for the Movement.

“The CLT model is the antidote for the speculative spiral we see on the housing market through a ‘commons’approach” Kim Van Sparrentak, Member of the European Parliament (Greens/AFE)


Visit the SHICC Website: Here

Register to our newsletter: Here

Contact: Geert de Pauw (CLT Brussels Coordinator, Brussels)


Online Resources:

- Watch the conference in Replay

- Check out the European CLT Guide

- Access the EU CLT Policy Paper

What is a CLT?

Community Land Trusts (CLTs) are non-profit, democratic, community-led organisations. Their counterpart in France are the Organismes de Foncier Solidaire (OFS). CLT’s and OFS develop and manage homes for affordable to low-and medium-income households, aswell as other assets contributing to thriving local communities.They act as long-term stewards of these assets, ensuring they remain permanently affordable.This is achieved through mechanisms that ensure that any additional value generated is retained within the CLT.

What is the SHICC project?

The SHICC (Sustainable Housing for Inclusive and Cohesive Cities) project aims to develop, support and disseminate the CLT and OFS model in Europe.The SHICC programme is structured around three main themes: Firstly,recognition of the legitimacy of the model, the establishment of a financial and legislative environment conducive to the establishment and expansion of CLT/OFS, and capacity building for existing and emerging CLT/OFS. This is a €3.8m European Interreg programme, carried out over a four-year period (2017-2021) by the City of Lille (France); the National CLT Network (UK); the CLT of London, Brussels and Ghent; and the Global Fund for Cities Development (FMDV, France).Recently new partners joined the projectin order to maximise its impacts throughout the final year of implementation: And the People (Netherlands), Self-Organised Architecture (SOA, Ireland), the Institute for Creative Sustainability (id22, Germany) and the, Dumfries and Galloway Small Communities Housing Trust (DGSCHT, UK)

(1) Access the full programme here

(2) See full verbatim here.