“We are so grateful for the generous bequests,” said trust chairman Malcolm Tillyer. “The continual growth of second home ownership in the Lakes has driven prices up and made it very dif-ficult for the young families, in particular, to remain living in the area and the sense of local community is being lost.”
But the bequeathing of a series of properties has given a timely boost to the trust’s efforts, which have won praise from both MP Tim Farron and South Lakeland District Council.
One of the properties, Fern Cottage on Clappersgate, near Ambleside, was left to the trust by James Spedding, who lived there for many years.
“Jim loved living in Clappersgate and wanted to ensure his home continued to be lived in by local people,” said Mr Tillyer. “The house is currently being extensively renovated but will soon be lived in by a local family. It will be will be renamed Spedding Cottage in memory of Jim”.
Kenneth Smith, a builders’ merchant from the Midlands, left High Crag at Gale Rigg, Ambleside, to the trust.
Mr Smith had a deep love for the Lake District and bought the property as a second home. But as High Crag is a large house, a decision was made with Mr Smith’s family to sell it and use the proceeds towards other properties.
The trust subsequently purchased a property at Loughrigg Park, Ambleside, previously a holiday let, and a young couple and their two girls are now living in it.
“It’s wonderful this house is now being lived in by a young local family,” said Mr Tillyer. “There were 14 applications for the tenancy, which goes to show the level of need for affordable housing in the area.”
The trust is also renovating a terrace of cottages in Sawrey that were sold to it, at considerably below market value, by the late Alan Brockbank. An additional cottage will be added to the terrace, which will be named Brockbank Cottage in his memory.
“It is good to know people are so passionate about helping young Lakeland families continue to live in their communities for years to come,” said Mr Tillyer.
The trust was set up in 1937 by the Hext family in Coniston after it recognised the shortage of affordable housing for local people, a visionary view as the issue has grown more and more acute in the decades since then.
And the recent bequeathing of properties is a significant boost as the trust attempts to tackle a problem that has become a major economic and social problem, with sky-high prices preventing young families, who often work in low wage sectors such as tourism, unable to get a foothold on the property ladder.
Anne Hall, a longstanding trustee and SLDC councillor, said the news was not only a fantastic sign of community spirit, but was also already showing tangible signs of success.
As she handed over the keys of a trust property to the Barron family in Loughrigg Park, she said: “My work for the trust is so rewarding and not least the feeling in this case of turning a holiday home back to local occupancy. These young couples have so much to add to their communities it is wonderful to welcome them back to Ambleside, their home town.”
Cllr Jonathan Brook, who holds the SLDC portfolio for housing and innovation, said:“We welcome the trust’s recent successes and look forward to continuing to work with them to deliver more affordable homes, to help reduce disadvantage and create new opportunities for young people across the district,” he said.
“There is an acute need for affordable homes for local people across the area. That’s why our council plan has the delivery of housing as a key priority.
“The Lakeland Housing Trust is a key partner in making available properties at affordable rent levels in some of our most housing-stressed and iconic communities.”
Mr Farron also welcomed the news and praised the work of the trust. “This is really positive and welcome news,” said the Westmorland and Lonsdale MP. “Every week I have constituents contact me who either live in cramped or sub-standard housing, or are being forced to move away from the area because of high house prices. “We must keep working and campaigning to make sure every family has a decent affordable home to live in.”
Other projects are on going and more properties are likely to come to the trust over the coming months, but Mr Tillyer warned further accommodation was still needed as the group tackled what has been a huge and increasingly serious issue across the region.
“What the Lakeland Housing Trust does goes some way to helping address the problem – but more needs to be done,” he said.
“We primarily rely on the generosity of the public so it’s important that the objectives of the Lakeland Housing Trust our widely known.”
Further information about the trust can be found on the website: www.thelakelandhousingtrust.co.uk
Cllr Anne Hall hands over the keys of a Lakeland Housing Trust property on Loughrigg Park to the Barron family, watched by fellow trustee Peter Davies
The Lakeland Housing Trust
c/o H&H Land & Estates, 36 Finkle Street,
Kendal, Cumbria LA9 4AB
Tel: 01539 721375
The Lake District Sustainable Development Fund
The Friends of the Lake District
Member of the Charities Aid Foundation CAF