In 2014, Redbridge Citizens ran a listening campaign to discover the main issues troubling the local community. We found that housing was the number one concern. In the runup to the local elections that year, we approached all the candidates about the possibility of setting up a Community Land Trust in Redbridge. All three agreed.
Our campaign began with relationship building and education. In February 2015, we met with the Cabinet Member for Housing and senior housing officers and introduced her to the concept of CLTs. A few days later, we held a housing action with over 100 people and the Deputy Council Leader committed to building affordable CLT homes in Redbridge with us. A small group of us also the Neighbourhoods and Communities Service Committee meeting, where Cabinet Member for Housing agreed to work with us. Eight Redbridge Citizens leaders presented to the Council’s Fairness Commission in August getting a warm response to the CLT proposal.
In September we held another meeting with the Leader of the Council, and explained how CLT homes would benefit local people. We needed a clear commitment, so in November 2015, Redbridge Citizens held an action at the full council meeting, with 70 people standing up, in silence, holding placards calling for twoCLTs. A round of applause was received from all members of the council who were impressed with how we had conducted the campaign and the action. The Leader said, “You know where my heart is on this” and agreed to visit St Clements CLT with us. The year culminated with Redbridge Citizens attending the launch of the Redbridge Fairness Commission’s Report which recommended that two large-scale sites be identified for CLT development.
Over the course of 2015, Redbridge Citizens had signed up over 300 people as £1 shareholders of London CLT, so in February 2016, a year on from our first housing action, we held a Housing Assembly to celebrate this by eating cake with Cllr Athwal and secured a personal pledge from him for 250 CLT homes.
It was in 2017 when things started coming together. In March, at the TELCO (East London Citizens) 20th Anniversary Assembly, Council Leader Jas Athwal made a public commitment, before other London Council Leaders, to 250 CLT homes in Redbridge. Four potential sites were identified, including Clements Road, which comprises 2 office blocks to be converted to flats.
In July the Council owned development company, then called DEVCO, now known as Redbridge Living, was ratified at the Cabinet Meeting by stating that it would seek the provision of affordable housing and stated that it was “committed to enabling a wider choice of generally affordable housing and is working with the London CLT to enable delivery of CLT homes.”
In January 2018, the schedule for the first site, Clements Road, was drawn up, with homes scheduled to be completed in September 2020. Working with Architects San Frontieres, we produced a design brief for Clements Road, setting out our vision for the site.
This campaign has demonstrated the importance of listening to our community to understand the issues that really mattered to them. We learnt the importance of collaboration across different faiths and backgrounds and of being patient, brave and persistent. This has been a long journey over the past few years, but because we were confident and had a clear vision of what we are working for and why, we managed to keep momentum going. Most of all, we learnt that, as we are working with people for people, building relationships in the long term is what is needed to make real change.