Spotlight: Nith Valley Leaf Trust

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Community Benefit Funding: Helping to address local housing need and tackle fuel poverty. 

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and also a lack of energy efficient housing, as many available rental properties are poorly maintained and/or built to outdated standards.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 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.

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