Lydden Meadow is an attractive farmstead style development of ten high quality, energy efficient homes. Set in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) these homes have been built to provide affordable housing primarily for people with close connections to the village through residency, family or work.
The story starts back in 2005 when a well attended open village meeting registered their concerns over high house prices and the resulting impact on local villagers’ ability to live and work locally along with the decline in school numbers.  This initiated an idea that if the village could acquire land cheaply then it could build houses itself at a cost which ought to be within the reach of locals. In 2006 a group of volunteers under the chairmanship of Richard Bonnie (Mark Needham, Bridget Hodges, Ed Southey, Dick Sealy, Julian Bunkall, Graham House and Nicki Barker) decided to use a Community Land Trust model to acquire land and set up a trust that could build all the affordable houses needed by the village in 2006. An advert in the Lydden Vale News for landowners willing to offer a piece of land adjacent to the Village Development Boundary for a price that was better than agricultural prices but well below development land prices, produced an offer of 5 possible options.   These were considered by the planners at the District Council and resulted in two options being brought before a well attended open village meeting in February 2007.  The result was the piece of land, now occupied by Lydden Meadow, being voted as the favoured option. The Trust then had to establish the exact number of properties needed by locals in the village and by understanding their earnings, whether they could afford to build houses.  This followed a survey within the Parish which established a need for 10 houses. Before the land was purchased, the Trust had to ensure it could get planning permission for 10 houses, what design was acceptable and whether it could be done in a manner that was affordable to those locals who had expressed interest.   Initially a very sustainable straw bale design based on the work of an eco architect from Cornwall and a local builder from near Child Okeford led to a business plan that was viable and planning permission was obtained in April 2007.  Because the land was within the AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty), the planners insisted on a sympathetic design based on the concept of a farmhouse and converted farm buildings around a central farmyard space. The Trust then negotiated a development loan from the District Council for the estimated build costs plus land purchase, along with a grant from the Tudor Trust of £40,000 for implementing such an innovative build method.  BNCPT finally acquired Building Regulations Approval and appointed an Employers Agent and local solicitor. The positive aspect of the straw bale model was undoubtedly its cheapness of construction and environmental friendliness, but there were many downsides, chief amongst which were the ability to get finance for mortgages and insurance, and finding an alternative builder if the current option failed.  All of these eventually caused this build plan to fail in April 2008. The Trust was then confronted with a major rethink.  It went out to tender to  alternative builders which  came up with costs for the straw bale construction method that were close to conventional construction, and left the Trust with a major hole in its financial model.  If it kept to the plan to construct highly eco-friendly houses, with very low running costs, the total cost of building ran way ahead of our villagers’ ability to afford by about £50,000 per house.  The Trustees felt at a cross roads, whether to move forward and find grants to plug the hole, or abandon the plan.  Overwhelmingly the Trust decided, after so much work, they had to at least have a go at seeking grant funding.  Under the new chairmanship of Tony Leyland and a changing Trusteeship of Julian Bunkall, Bridget Hodges, Dick Bennett, Jon Sulkin, Andrew Stone, Mike Watts, Jane Pfeffer, Jacqui Cuff and  Nicki Barker, huge effort was spent in talking to the District Council and the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) which resulted finally in an offer of a grant, albeit with a number of conditions. Throughout this 2 years of grant searching, efforts were continuing on negotiating the required planning agreements, the details of building to a very high standard (Code 4) of sustainability, an Environmental  Brief, an Allocation Policy, Conflict of Interest Policy and developing all the other legal requirements.  In the spring of 2010, with the promise of funding in place, the Trust  set out on serious negotiations with the appointed builder CG Fry and Son.  Not surprisingly, with Fry’s high build standards they suggested significant design improvements that could be achieved for the same price, leading to a considerably re-engineered layout that markedly increased energy efficiency.  Lydden Meadow as you now see it was the final result of all these discussions.  The downside was that the Trust had to submit a new planning application and all the protracted negotiations involved.  Planning was finally granted in July 2010 with stringent conditions on drainage, flood prevention, environmental improvements, exterior materials and for a hard footpath across the stream and up through the playing field. Building finally started in early September 2010 under the new chairmanship of Andrew Stone along with Trustees Dick Bennett, Jon Sulkin, Jacqui Cuff, Jane Pfeffer and Nicki Barker.  The footpath across the field was temporarily closed and huge earthmoving equipment moved on site.  By November, building was well under way and all through the bitter snows of December 2010, the timber frames and roofs were erected.  In mid-summer 2011 the building work was completed with all ten houses being awarded the stringent Code 4 certification which included suitable access for wheelchairs, a heat exchange heating systen and rainwater recycling for low running cost. In addition a communal wildflower meadow was sown and the footbridge built across the river. The Trust finally took possession of the site from the builders on the 29th July 2011. Not surprisingly during the six years prior to completion the names and number of applicants for these houses ebbed and flowed.  Meanwhile, in Autumn 2010, with the site becoming a reality for all to see, the Trust embarked on an extensive advertising campaign to ensure that all eligible applicants with a strong connection to the village had a chance to put their names forward.   December 2010 saw the difficult task of allocation in a fair and transparent manner helped by advice from the Housing Department of the District Council.   This resulted in 5 houses being offered to villagers on a tenancy basis and 5 on a shared ownership basis; a tenure split that reflected the needs of the applicants.  This mix may well vary over time as circumstances change or properties come up for reallocation.   The overwhelming criteria for allocation was a connection via birth, long residency or work to the village, and an understanding that the properties would never end up on the open market. When a property does come up for rent or resale, local people will always take priority. 2012 felt like a momentous pause in Lydden Meadow’s journey.  The properties are all fully occupied and the ‘raw’ new building appearance has softened.   In time, as the hedges, trees and flowers grow and occupants come and go it will become part of the village heritage.  Hopefully this story of the effort and time contributed by so many villagers will never be forgotten.  It is a story of a pioneering effort by a small village in Dorset to influence the future and vitality of our much loved Buckland Newton, now itself the proud owner of 10 new houses. The Trust holds these homes in perpetuity.  The village will always own all or part of each property. BNCPT is the landlord required by the HCA to abide by best practice as landlord fulfilling all legal and other obligations. It has sub contracted housing management (as required by HCA) to an accredited Housing Management company, currently Magna Housing Group. In the long term, once we have discharged all our loans (within 20 years) all “free income” from the scheme will be used to the benefit of our village. Typically it could be used to provide support to our school, the village shop, further homes or workplaces to the benefit of Buckland Newton. The total cost of the scheme was £1.4 million of which just under 50% was funded by grants. The balance is funded by commercial loans and will not require any further public subsidy.

About Buckland Newton Community Property Trust (BNCPT)

BNCPT was originally set up in 2005 to address a desperate shortage of affordable accommodation for local people from the Parish. This was impacting on the long term vitality and balance of the village and viability of local facilities such as the primary school, pub and shop.   In 2007 it was registered as a Company Limited By Guarantee and in 2013 was granted Charitable status.   The initial object of the Trust, to build 10 affordable houses for local families, was brought to fruition in 2011 by the energies of a large number of parishioners who freely gave their time and expertise.  The houses, known as Lydden Meadow, have become a long-term village asset.  The Trust continues to look after Lydden Meadow on behalf of the village and it is now administered by 8 local Trustees who include representatives from the community, the Parish Council and two residents of Lydden Meadow itself.

Current Trustees

Nicki Barker Jacqui Cuff Emma Phillips Collette Stevens Andrew Stone (Chairman) Jon Sulkin Chris Suter Gillian Watkin

The journey to the creation of the

affordable houses at Lydden Meadow...

Lydden Meadow
 Buckland Newton CPT Limited. All rights reserved. Buckland Newton CPT Limited is a company limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales under Company Registration No. 06209593, registered office c/o Messrs Edwards & Keeping, Unity Chambers, 34 High East Street, Dorchester, Dorset DT1 1HA. Charity No: 1153817  Updated 16th December 2017 09:10 We use cookies to provide the best possible website experience. We do not store personal information in our cookies. If you continue to use our site, you agree to this, but you can disable cookies at any time