Sheffield CLT Strategy.

This document is s republish of a document that aimed to outline the strategy for a sheffield CLT over five years.

Building a mission statement.

CLT’s operate with a shared longer term visions for society. To create a social and affordable housing market, as well as providing community and social space in a way which is participatory and fair.

The Sheffield CLT aims to be democratic, forward thinking and active in all areas concerning house-building and community space building in sheffield. We aim to strategically decrease the opportunities for bad quality development and lack of community space. We increasing the likelihood for good quality affordable housing and social space, by opening doorways and making community centred proposals. Growing from the ambitions of the communities themselves.

Overarching aims

The SCLT aims to make Sheffield one of the uk’s most livable cities, culturally, economically and socially. As well as enhancing the character of housing to create better neighborhoods. Well-being, neighborliness is one of Sheffield’s most attractive qualities, the Sheffield CLT framework aims to be a vehicle to enhance a culture of human interaction within the built environment. We believe increasing quality of life in this area will lead to economic growth, attract professional growth, maintain cultural diversity and enhance opportunities.


The Uk’s Housing and development sphere is politically opaque. Communities who live and operate in the area are broadly under-represented and are not integrated in the proposal pipeline. Private development groups are organised attending political meetings without an equally organised community voice. There is a lack of methodology for community led opinions or scenarios to be put on the table for discussion in a concrete format. Therefore, the quality of proposals developers put forward participate in a race to the bottom, and have a lower quality than the city requires. A neoliberal market without quality control measures.

Despite producing some of the world’s best architects on paper, Sheffield continuously punches below its weight at an international level in the contemporary architecture and planning. Many political representatives for the citizens are not educated in alternative possibilities, with only the limited opinions of unenlightened developers to be informed by. This is despite some incredibly impassioned politicians and people within local governance aiming to make positive change.

The problems are educational because, although they have the citizens best interests, most politicians do not understand the methods to empower community members. The Sheffield CLT framework, in its first year, must position itself as the key scenario which broadens the arsenale of opportunities and options available for planners and government workers when planning city level interventions. Stopping any potential for interventions which are a result of corruption or collusion.

A vision for the future.

Sheffield planning may be suffering from an unnecessary ‘Colonisation of the future’ with those who operate in council departments unintentionally working against the very citizens they seek to represent. Councils tend to only be working with the groups who have access to finance, not those in need of affordable housing or community space. Most community members would like to better participate in the self provision of housing or community facilities, however, there is an assumption that the popular centralised methodology for development is the only option, stopping a broader palette of opportunity. A single option is not healthy for a vibrant city as it restricts economic diversity. As Jane Jacobs said; ‘the city for everyone is one made by everyone‘.

Social licence to operate.

The nuanced issues communities face are unlikely to be unpicked and resolved as long as traditional developers hold the only social licence to operate. The stakeholders who have the power to support them aren’t giving communities the right tools for self-mobilisation and democratic engagement with the built environment. They are inhibited in solving problems their communities face, Despite being uniquely positioned to do so. The Sheffield CLT needs to focus on building a ‘social licence to operate’ for itself. This comes after the realisation that even the head of Sheffield City Council was not aware of CLT’s and their propensity as a social innovation.

One aim is to increase a level of acceptance or approval by local political stakeholders of organisations, local politicians, public sector workers and facilitate a growth of participation in the community within Sheffield.

Another way is to build an SCLT network which can create a brokerage dynamic with local community groups who need housing and community facilities and the LA who hold an internal architecture department, land and power on the communities behalf. The CLT framework will allow the right tools and agency allowing sensemaking and changemaking within the communities and the design departments will give rigour to the local area needs.

There are three plausible clear forms of possible partnership.

Large CLT and council collaboration, where the local authorities support a city wide clt, learning from the likes of champlain housing trust in burlington Vermont, the worlds largest CLT. As-well as supporting the rights of first refusal . This is most in line with Labour policy.

Another is to support the CLT’s with favourable policy, which means CLT’s have rights of first refusal for many of the minor and major housing related schemes, although this can support a diversity of CLT’s. This is most in line with labour and Liberal Democrat Policy.

Another is for there to be no formal partnership or support between CLT’s and local authority, although this creates a significant disadvantage for clt’s as often there is extensive strategic and commercial partnership with large developers and the council. This is most in line with conservative way of approaching CLT’s.

CLT First policy

We aim to establish the CLT as the new normal, because the development approach aligns with the politics of the City of Sheffield. It is important that the SCLT and community led options are always sought out. The ‘CLT first’ proposal is an aim which we intend on lobbying for. This means government officials would need to seek out a community led proposal first before relinquishing opportunities to the private sector. CLT proposals are aligned with National Labour Policy towards ‘alternative forms of ownership’ and Land for the many. It is also more ideologically aligned with local Labour policy to ‘insource as much as possible’ this is because a CLT is much closer to a public sector body than a for-profit entity.

It is also clear that the learnings from this approach could lead to a new means of supplying public housing in a post neoliberal economy. This would be in line with the community paradigm in public service provision. In a different socio-economic environment, communities would be integral to the creation and provision of public housing.

The proposal for the CLT is that the SCLT should be given first option and made aware of every opportunity for development. The cities people must have the ability to give proper evaluation, mobilising local community members so they can participate in the cities creation. This allows genuine citizen participation. This creates market competition against only private development corporations, which are not ideologically aligned with the interests of the citizens. The idea is to give people both a voice and the means of production.

There is also the option to collaborate with the council for large scale interventions and public housing projects. This would need a rigorous public clt partnership where CLT’s and co-operatively led housing becomes a key provider of public housing in the city.

Community land growth through Asset Based Community Development (ABCD).

The ABCD approach is a method which builds on pre-existing Assets, resources, skills and experience available in the community; Organising community members to harness the communities strength and potential towards sustainable development. This empowers the community by encouraging them to utilise what they already possess. The SCLT is positioned to grow from this to build an initial repository of community assets.

The ABCD methodology will be used to discover existing active community members. Helping to grow multiple CLT’s within this distributed management system. The aim is to discover those already locally rooted and engaged community members and help those who are without a voice. Giving people the right platform means they can utilise the tacit knowledge about their community in order to influence development. This is where people have been traditionally disempowered.

Initially the CLT plans to work with in close collaboration with local Councils, authorities and private landholders to open up and enable community land transfers. New build projects are the long term ambition however in it’s inception it is a better to prioritise underused spaces. Sheffield has lots of underutilised, or surplus spaces and we will be able to make use of by rapidly regeneration. This is the quickest way to build a portfolio and create a genuine impact. Thus serving as a launchpad for new build projects later.

This approach builds on the work of some of initial members who have galvanised as part of the early SCLT team. The idea is that these groups act as initial test subjects to develop proof of concepts; some initial interested subjects are the Foodhall Project, Laycock House residents group, and park hill residents.

Community spaces in the ABCD context.

Example: In this context community centres and social eating spaces such as the Foodhall Project, play a role in being the bedrock for community participation and engagement in the creation of a local area CLT. The first CLT will be building from and enhancing a communities existing work.

Area regeneration

Initially then, the focus is on the ownership transfer of currently occupied spaces, underutilised buildings. Transferring ownership into a secure trust, and regenerating buildings in disrepair. This creates a more permanent position for many of the community groups to grow their endeavours with community ownership.

This also builds on strategies like Re-new Sheffield. Although successful and applauded as a very healthy first step, renew’s first iteration arguably had flaws which prioritised short term regeneration over long term community wealth building. This lead to the unintentional financial marginalisation of the subjects it aimed to support in the long term, inhibiting growth. Introducing the CLT model to complement this strategy, as renew takes the second step, allows community value to be generated and retained within the community over the long term.

The ABCD model was very successful with the Granby CLT which inventively refurbished derelict houses to create a neighborhood. Examples like Giroscope in Hull also created holistic regeneration programmes which even include citizen training and wellbeing as part of the process.

Proof of concepts

The SCLT aims to develop iteratively over time. Starting with proof of concepts to build membership, momentum and support. After the first Community Asset Transfers are successful these will trigger new scenarios, and open new frames of dialogue, which allow larger development to be undertaken.

The portfolio will enable groups to achieve more land and leverage capital through an increased overall rental turnover. Each new asset the CLT gains; the more the purchasing power of the CLT will increase. When reinvested into the community it allows greater financial leverage for ongoing regeneration. The CLT can also access government grants with a LA/CLT collaboration.

With each development the CLT becomes better positioned to provide housing and the communities needs like community centres and civic facilities, building membership. Hypothetically the more active members are, the more citizens will be engaged and generating proposals and the more the CLT will expand in line with network theory. This is so long as there is the right amount of autonomy for citizen development within the framework, and the founding equitable principles are followed and accounted by each member.


A CLT structure balances incentives. Community members become individual stakeholders in their local community trust. The CLT’s core principals reduce the layer of corruptibility having a system of accountability, meanwhile retaining an individual increase in motivation as they are actively making change and have greater ownership.


The SCLT aims to uniquely position itself to achieve certain rights, which open the floodgates to support other CLT units. The CLT’s unity and effectiveness thereafter will come from the ability to educate and mobilise people who are interested in helping to shape their community. Building a shared knowledge base and hosting open educational meet ups help to build and promote the culture in Sheffield. As we connect with multiple partners we expand opportunities and individual units within the SCLT will grow around these new opportunities.

The right education and governance structure should enable participation at every level. Building a platform first means that future units benefit from the intellectual work and political power of the whole

Growing the CLT with local contacts.

The SCLT will be a framework for multitude of land trust units. Responding to the communities needs, but having professional responsibilities as a member organisation.Individuals who are interested in the preservation and growth of their local community land can galvanise as a SCLT unit. This versatility allows multiple groups to form and stimulate a market dynamic where Individual, smaller assessments by each can be made to suit local circumstance. Such a system would be stifled by over-centralisation. On the other hand, without a framework, self-interest has traditionally overridden the ability for citizens to participate in the creation of ethical public and civic housing development. The SCLT aims to balance incentives in a way that allows autonomy but underpins it with ethics and a public agenda. Groups operate freely but within the bounded flexibility of core values of the SCLT so exploitation and bad actors do not occur.

The development sector is providing housing at too slow a pace. Democratising the means of production is the clearest pathway towards solving the housing crisis. The SCLTs move towards more active stimulation at community level will hypothetically create more efficiency in the housing market, as it allows active self provision. If it achieves the right support from government stakeholders the Sheffield CLT framework will give local citizens ‘a right to build.’

Speculative proposals

In most scenarios communities must be given space to Identify opportunities and put forward speculative proposals. Proposals will be underpinned by a research led design methodology, where the community proposing the design is thoroughly rooted in the local area. it is favourable that those proposing designs should live within the area during the course of the proposal’s development to ensure tacit accountability in regards to anything within the proposal. Rooted proposals will enrich design in the city and set the bar for any area development in the future. It is therefore important that any CLT is absolutely rigorous in its analysis and understanding of the local condition to ensure the intervention is the right one.

Local groups will form units to Identify underused homes and plots and work with LA to create strategies. The SCLT aims to facilitate the financial and legal plan as-well as helping manifest a project management plan.This is so that all efforts can be made to undertake research and design to respond to the local areas socio-economic moving parts.

In the future it is envisaged that there will be multiple units operating independently for different areas with different ideas skills and assets. Building alongside one another as proponents of the broader cultural system.

Conceptualising solutions to the problems a community faces as a speculative proposal allows the core values to be better articulated. Speculative proposals also ensure accountability.As well as being a vehicle to manage ambiguity and mobilise action within communities. Generating speculative proposals means there are more options are available for stakeholders and local planning experts to consider and support.

Long term community management and feedback.

The SCLT’s community rooted structure enables a feedback loop system which is not possible with other development methodologies. This extends to the post occupancy management. This explodes the project timeline as design interventions can be iteratively made as reinvestment of profits allow new interventions to occurs. This empowerment builds from the collective ownership of community assets.

Building our dependencies. Good design depends on a social licence to operate. Reviewing and evaluating the design quality of existing proposals from a community perspective. Giving more genuine power to communities, means of producing value in their own area. Giving more power to people so they can represent their locality in the board rooms. Undergo scenario planning. Set up a pipeline of work. Lending building structures.

Review services.

Because the CLT aims increase the quality of social design standards overall. The Sheffield CLT will also operate an active Citizen design review system and service to help local authorities and planning authorities weigh proposals against the values that the community holds. The CLT emerges from a mixture of citizens concerned with the lack of design quality. There are many active citizens who want to see change, and academics who wish to create better futures for citizens and professionals who want to build a better environment.

Whenever there are concerned community groups, we will work with them to create plausibility scenarios and help them mobilise themselves as an SCLT unit, connecting them with other engaged groups and professionals to structure a community led response. We will review the earmarked development in relation to the SCLT’s shared aims. We will also consider proven principles drawing from the lessons from architecture through the lense of social science, rather than a simply aesthetic study. Meaning how the built environment affects the people in the place.

Consensus The SCLT means the communities can build a clear consensus through a cross section of locally organised local voices. All members of the SCLT will be invited to contribute to a community review of a project another member feels is important. Examples of things that might need reviewing is anything that doesn’t consider an existing community culture and proposal with a lack of thorough historical understanding of the site anything that disregards the political ideals of the city. Anything aimless and short sighted in relation to the needs of the local community.

The aim is for development proposals to begin to favour and benefit local people and address the causal root of specific community problems, moving away from housing as only a commodity.

The community units will likely include local counselors and representatives for local areas who are impassioned themselves and can act as information gateways.

Business idea.

In order for the CLT to be successful it needs to have clarity in it’s business endeavours.The CLT’s business idea involves;

Speculate and strategise for long term community asset generation. Take into consideration value increases. (25+years)

Create proposals to acquire land and community assets.

Negotiate to acquire land and buildings at heavily subsidised costs to ensure future affordability.

Leverage finance creatively against assets, work with LA to secure this.

Utilise capital to develop built environment.

Increase land and building value in other areas through good design standards.

Manage rents ensure a profitability whilst ensuring genuine affordability for tenants.

Re-mortgage where substantial increase in capital value occurs, ensure affordability is always maintained but allow reinvestment.

Reinvest all profits into the development of more community housing to ensure a steady value and building quality increases.

Offer professionally curated community led design review services.

A core management team emerges around undertaking this activity.

Identifying learners.

In order for the SCLT to be successful it must spend two thirds of its time identifying, researching ‘learners’. These are people who have the power to make change in the areas so the CLT can move forward. It is very important that they are completely aware of what the CLT is, how it works, what it plans and how best they can help. There are learners both locally, nationally.The list is to be expanded on but some examples of learners are;

The head of sheffield city council

The 12 Local Councillors who have decision making power.

Media exposure

Media exposure means writing articles, holding exhibitions, giving radio interviews and bringing clarity to the community involved so more people can understand the methodology. Content driven media is generally the best form of proliferating an idea. The media exposure will follow the story of our ‘Proof of Concepts’ these will be grown over time in Sheffield City Center. Allowing people to become more involved as the project’s progress.

Awareness and engagement will also relate to knowledge sharing activities. Because the SCLT as a mixture between a mutual aid, Union platform and an education system, reporting on the educational events and discoveries will form the heart of the SCLT media strategy.

Strategy summary.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

-Use an Asset Based Community Development approach;

-Create proof of concept projects;

-Develop better community land transfer gateways;

-Grow distributed governance;

-Conduct community reviews and planning proposals;

-Build speculative proposals for development with and from communities;

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Louis Koseda

Louis Koseda

Architectural, social theory and enterprise. A.B —