‘On Common Ground’ Conference, Brussels, December 2020

On December 4th, SOA along with our SHICC partners presented an event entitled Community Land Trusts: Building Common Ground Across Europe. Originally envisaged as two-day event to take place in Brussels, uncertainty around travel meant that this became a virtual event taking place over a single afternoon. The event brought together activists and policy-makers, with the aim of increasing and coordinating support for the CLT movement at regional, national and EU levels.

The event was also an informal launch event for the SHICC CLT guide entitled Urban Community Land Trust in Europe, Towards a Transnational Movement, which is available for download at the link below.

From an SOA point of view this was a particularly interesting insight into the workings of EU finance and policymaking, and we were left with the sense that, by working together and at scale, CLT projects across Europe have the potential to benefit from greater financial and policy support. We will be following up over the coming weeks with those who in Ireland who attended, and also to highlight the availability of a video recording of the event for those who could not, as we try to maximise the potential for this event support the CLT movement in Ireland.

The following are some links related to this event, and below you will find a more detailed report on the speakers and content.

  • Watch the Conference in Replay : here
  • Check out the Policy Paper of the conference: here
  • Have a look at the European CLT Guide: here
  • See the final event programme: here
  • More on SHICC Website: here


Detailed Report

This key event gathered more than 150 participants from the housing sector and high-level speakers from all over the continent to discuss CLT development.

After a warm welcome from Pascal Smet (Member of the Committee of the Regions and Secretary of State for Urban Planning and European Relations of the Brussels-Capital Region), Geert de Pauw, coordinator of the CLT Brussels and pioneer of the EU CLT Movement, took the floor to present the model and its dissemination in Europe.

De Pauw’s description was complemented by two members of the London CLT (Costa Christou, Lead Campaigner, and Razia Khanom, Board Member) and a representative of the Municipality of Amsterdam (Jeroen van der Waal, Strategic Policy Advisor for Circular Built Environment) who showcased how CLTs are meeting current EU priorities on social cohesion and inclusive cities and have the potential to function as a catalyst towards fair and just circular neighbourhoods.

This first session shed light on the model’s social, economic, environmental added values. Speakers notably presented feedback from field experience, on the involvement and empowerment of residents in Lambeth Borough (London) and the inclusion of the model in circular neighbourhood development in Amsterdam.

These inspiring speeches have been backed by the commitments of public authorities’ representatives. Highlighting how national governments are supporting the model in the United Kingdom and France, we welcomed Tom Chance (Co-chief Executive, National CLT Network of England and Wale) and (Jean-Marie Quéméner, Head of the Development Office, Ministry for Housing, France) who presented how Community Housing Fund enabled CLTs to thrive in the UK and how a robust legal and financial framework supports a dynamic development of French OFS (a French variant of the CLT).

At the local level, insights from the City of Lille (Caroline Lucats, Head of the Housing Department), Ghent (Tine Heyse, Deputy Mayor) and Amsterdam (Salomé Galjaard, Deputy Programme Manager Circular Economy) contributed to prove the case for CLTs and showed how they can be mobilised as part of local housing and urban policies through innovative public-civic partnerships.

EU representatives then contributed to detail how CLTs have been recognised and fit in the current EU agenda. Sorcha Edwards (Secretary General, Housing Europe) introduced the session presenting the EU context and challenges. Kim van Sparrentak (MEP) presented her European Parliament Report on ”Decent and Affordable Housing for All” to be voted on next January. A panel discussion gathering representatives of the European Commission (Thomas de Béthune, Policy Coordinator, Team Leader for Urban Policy, Directorate-General for Regional Affairs and Océane Peiffer-Smadja, Policy Officer, Directorate-General for Growth) and financiers (Brendan McDonagh, Adviser, European Investment Advisory Hub, EIB) then enabled the audience to better grasp how EU institutions could legally and financially

In conclusion, Michael LaFond (Chair of the Advisory Board, CLT Berlin) presented the recent achievements of the SHICC project which has just won the RegioStars 2020 Award in the category “Citizens’ engagement for cohesive cities” and the next steps for the Movement.