�2 million for village project

A PIONEERING community-led village development to provide homes, jobs and facilities in North Devon has secured a �2m loan from Triodos Bank.

The funding has enabled High Bickington Community Property Trust to begin the first phase of its flagship Community Land Trust development of affordable housing, workspaces and a renewable energy plant.

Preliminary work began there in late November and an official stone-laying ceremony is planned for late this spring.

A second phase will see the development of a community building, playing fields and infrastructure for a new primary school that will also have a multi-use games area. A site is also being retained for a possible future health centre and a community woodland has already been planted and is being well used.

Future phases will see the building of housing for sale that will enable the repayment of loans and underpin the future financial viability of the affordable housing and community facilities.

Triodos Bank only finances loan customers creating social, environmental or cultural added value - ranging from large ethical loan customers to smaller, innovative organisations meeting local needs. Key sectors include organic food and farming, renewable energy, social housing and fair trade.

The High Bickington trust, which has around 200 members in the village, identified affordable housing as a local priority and worked with partners, including the parish and county councils, to develop proposals and secure planning permission for this community-owned project.

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Charles Middleton, Triodos Bank’s UK managing director, said: “This is a significant loan for Triodos and a flagship project within the scope of the new political landscape. It is a project we are delighted to be able to support, using our collective experience to get it off the ground. We look forward to supporting more projects of this nature as the localism agenda really takes hold.”

David Brown, chairman of the High Bickington Community Property Trust, said: “It’s fantastic that work has started on the development of these much needed new homes after all the effort the local community and the partners have put into this. High Bickington is a small village with a big vision. We are working with partners to bring our vision for the future of the village to life, for the benefit of those who live here. There is still a lot of work to do before the homes become a reality, but we are delighted to have got to this stage and are grateful to all parties for their support in getting us to this point.”

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