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International law firm Trowers and Hamlins, acted for Lune Valley CLT on the grant of a long lease with build obligations to South Lakes Housing for a new £4 million Passivhaus Standard scheme in Lancaster for 20 high-quality eco-friendly family homes on a brownfield former industrial site in Halton.

The homes will be available for affordable rent and shared ownership for local people and are being delivered by SLH in partnership with the Lune Valley Community Land Trust and Lancaster City Council.

The Passivhaus homes will provide comfort, quality and lower running costs for residents and will help SLH to achieve its aspiration to reduce household bills and achieve affordable warmth for customers.

The homes will be constructed offsite to reduce costs and construction time and will help cut carbon emissions. Compared to standard buildings, homes that are built to Passivhaus standards generally need 90% less energy for heating and hot water and are constructed using airtight building fabric, high performance windows and doors and insulated frames.

The Lune Valley Community Land Trust bought the land from the land-owner and received grant funding from Lancaster City Council to cover pre-development costs incurred for preparation of planning. The next step was to then grant SLH an agreement for lease, and long build lease to allow them to carry out and complete the development.  It was key for Lune Valley CLT to ensure that the homes would remain both as affordable homes for the community but also that they would continue to adhere to the Passivhaus standard and that it would be a partnership with SLH to ensure that the community led aims and objectives for the development continued throughout the term.

Trowers Partner Louise Robinson who led on the deal said:

"The leases had to include some complicated drafting to ensure that these aims could be met, including rights of pre-emption for Lune Valley should SLH default, also rights of first refusal for SLH should Lune wish to sell, whilst keeping it fundable.  Due to the unique nature of what the parties wanted to achieve there were some complex negotiations required and we believe the lease is one which may set precedents for future developments of this nature. We are looking forward to seeing how the project develops."

Charles Ainger, Chair of Lune Valley Community Land Trust, said: 

“Implementing our long-term partnership with South Lakes Housing requires the lease to incorporate our collaborative community-led housing goals, while keeping it ‘lendable against’ for South Lakes’ lenders. Hard and careful work by Ward Hadaway, and our solicitors Trowers & Hamlins, with good understanding from both sides, achieved this key combination. We hope this lease model can also be useful to others who want to follow the partnership route for community-led affordable housing.”

The scheme is expected to be completed in summer 2022