The Land Trust: celebrating 15 years and looking forward to a bright future
As the Land Trust celebrates its 15th birthday, Chief Executive, Euan Hall, who championed the establishment of the Trust, looks back on everything they have achieved during that time, and what the charity’s ambitions are for the future.
When the Land Trust was established in 2004 I don’t think anyone involved at that time could have predicted the potential of what we would go on to achieve. We now have 70 sites across England and Scotland and deliver a huge amount of charitable activity that makes an amazing contribution to the lives of the people that live or work near one of our spaces.
Going back to the beginning, the Land Trust was initially established by the Homes and Communities Agency (now Homes England) to own and manage land in perpetuity for community benefit. Becoming a registered charity in 2010, the wide scope of what we do makes us an incredibly unique organisation with a key part to play in so many different areas.
There are so many aspects of our work that I am proud of but one area in particular where we have made huge progress is in understanding, and evidencing, the benefits that our green spaces can have on the physical and mental wellbeing of the communities who live and work around our sites.
Over the last couple of years we have developed a Social Value Model that allows us to measure our impact by assessing the benefits of our green space management against our five key charitable objectives of:
- Environment and biodiversity
- Health and wellbeing
- Education and learning
- Economic vitality
- Community cohesion and volunteering
The model provides evidence based, measurable indicators of the benefits of well managed green space for communities and analyses things such as health care cost savings, tourism, volunteering and educational engagement.
This is hugely valuable information for the Land Trust. To be able to put an economic and social value on the work we do helps our residents and communities feel positive about the area in which they live as well as being a valuable resource when it comes to putting a convincing case forward to government and key decision makers for greater investment in green infrastructure.
While we have achieved some great things over the last decade and a half we are always looking at innovative ways to change people’s lives for the better and have taken this approach directly into communities by acquiring service charge spaces.
This involves us taking on the management of the green space within residential property developments and planning a sustainable future that benefits the residents and local community.
In a world where the demand for new homes is rising at an increasingly rapid rate we believe it is vital the public open space within these developments is managed in such a way that it brings these new communities together.
Our approach, working directly with new residents helps foster community cohesion, deliver physical and mental health benefits, improve biodiversity and ultimately deliver more resilient, healthy, cohesive communities.
The main aspect to our work that sets us apart, though, is our ability to transform previously derelict bits of land into spaces that attract thousands of visitors a year and become a vital cog in the local community. One such example is our site at Port Sunlight River Park which has been transformed from a former landfill into a 28 hectare country park, which attracts thousands of visitors a year, supports local businesses and tourism and supports the users of our managing
partner Autism Together. A report commissioned by the Land Trust, and produced in partnership with Alliance Manchester Business School, highlighted that our management of the park has made a key contribution to a major uplift in the value of properties within a 500 metre radius of the park.
There was also a nice personal milestone in March when we acquired The Avenue Country Park, just outside Chesterfield. Once one of Europe’s most polluted sites, the former Coking works is now an award winning parkland and wildlife reserve and has been a site that the Land Trust has been trying to acquire since we were first established so we are delighted to have it as part of our portfolio and look forward to working with the community there in future years.
It is my fervent hope that the last 15 years are just the building blocks of what the Land Trust will go on to achieve in the future and we look forward to working with our communities and continuing to deliver charitable impact.
Find out more about the Trust here