Community benefit funding: Addressing local housing need as families move into new community-owned houses. 

Nith Valley Leaf Trust (NVLT) is a resident-led Development Trust, working across south Scotland, but primarily for the benefit of its host rural community of Closeburn in Dumfries & Galloway.

Closeburn community groups can access two significant community benefit funds, the Clyde Dumfries & Galloway Community Fund provided by SSE from its Clyde windfarm; and funding from the Harestanes wind farm, provided by ScottishPower Renewables and distributed by Annandale & Nithsdale Community Benefit Company (ANCBC).

Local volunteer residents make decisions on awards from both funds, supported by grant-making charity Foundation Scotland.

Through consultation with the Closeburn community, NVLT identified several local housing challenges. In particular a lack of affordable, family-sized, rental properties with secure tenancies; and also a lack of energy efficient housing, as many available rental properties are poorly maintained and/or built to outdated standards.

NVLT has been working in partnership with several local stakeholders including Dumfries & Galloway Small Communities Housing Trust and Dumfries and Galloway Council to address these challenges.

In 2013, NVLT purchased an affordable house for rent to a local family, enabling them to avoid poor quality expensive private rented property, or being forced to move out of the area. NVLT purchased the house for £81,000, utilising a mortgage and grant funding, including £35,000 from the SSE Clyde Dumfries & Galloway Community Fund.

In summer 2019, NVLT started building three family-sized passivhaus certified homes, a type of ultra-low energy building that requires little energy for space heating or cooling, enabling low heating bills, higher air quality and healthier homes. These will be the first such community-owned homes in Scotland.  The houses are now complete and their new tenants received their keys on the 22nd May 2020.

The site was previously owned by Dumfries and Galloway Council and transferred to NVLT by a process of asset transfer at 50% of market value. The cutting edge homes are being funded by The Scottish Government’s Rural Housing Fund and the Scottish Land Fund, as well as a loan from the Ecology Building Society. Match funding of £52,500 from the SSE Clyde D&G Community Fund and £15,000 from ANCBC has helped unlock this investment and contributed to realising a project that will make a transformational difference to a small rural community.