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Page last updated at 08:51 GMT, Thursday, 3 June 2010 09:51 UK
In depth: Rural issues in Somerset

rural Somerset
Villages in Somerset could meet affordable housing need through CLTs

The need for affordable housing in rural areas in Somerset has been well-documented, but one village is exploring a new method.

People in Queen Camel are being helped by the Dorset and Somerset Community Land Trust to look at buying land and building homes on it.

The advantage of the scheme is that local residents can choose who can live there, rather than local authorities.

Research carried out in Queen Camel has shown a need for 15 affordable homes.

'Ageing population'

Rosemary Heath Coleman has lived in the village for 60 years and became a councillor three years ago. She got involved in drafting a parish plan, where the need for affordable housing was highlighted.

"The village definitely saw a need for affordable housing so their children and their families could find a place to live here, without having to go away.

"We're an ageing population now because the children have all had to leave, so as a result of the parish plan we did a housing needs analysis through the Rural Housing Enablers and they identified we had a need for 15 families."

Rural Housing Enablers work alongside parish councils to help provide affordable housing through research.

We could have a community land trust and it can be quite awesome... it's a big responsibility
Rosemary Heath Coleman

From there, the parish council was given the option to explore the idea of having a Community Land Trust (CLT), where people in the village would have the right to buy land and get affordable homes built on it.

Guiding the parish council with this big decision is the Dorset and Somerset Community Land Trust.

Steve Watson, from the organisation said: "In a nutshell Community Land Trusts are not-for-profit organisations which enable local people to own local facilities in villages like shops, village halls and land for growing.

"Instead of being provided by a public authority of some kind they can be owned by the people who use them most."

According to Steve, one of the advantages is that landowners would be more confident in selling land for affordable homes to local people through the CLTs, rather than to developers.

The next step for people in Queen Camel is to decide whether this path is right for them.

"At the moment we are at a crossroads as to which way we should go," said Rosemary.

"We could have a community land trust and it can be quite awesome... it's a big responsibility."

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