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September 7, 2011

In with the bricks

Community enterprise typically arises out of some kind of market failure – the village shop going bust,  budget cuts forcing the council to close some local amenity.  The prospect of losing a vital service can be the spark to ignite a community response.  But imagine a new build community where common ownership is woven into the fabric of community life from the very beginning. What might sound somewhat utopian may be on the verge of becoming a reality 

Hundreds of jobs could be created to build a new £400 million village. The recently formed Kincluny Development Trust intend to apply for planning permission for the new community in Aberdeenshire.

The proposals will see around 1,500 houses built on a former quarry site between the villages of Durris and Drumoak. The Trust will run the community under social enterprise principles and have the potential to manage shops, allotments and renewable energy sources with profits being used for the benefit of local people.

Up to a third of the homes will be affordable to those on lower incomes with prices expected to start at £90,000. If the planning process is successful building may start by the end of 2012.

Bill Burr, managing director of CHAP Homes, has helped to set up the Trust and believes up to 200 construction jobs will be sustained over the 10 year life of the project. He said: “We are putting our money where our mouth is.  In addition to our £400million investment, CHAP will contribute financially to the new Development Trust by allocating a sum from each house sale with the intention of the community managing responsibility for the future development of the village. This is true sustainability.” Leona McDermid, commercial director of the Foyer charity which already runs several social enterprises, said: “A true community is one where everyone not only has a sense of belonging but also a share in a Community Trust that has its own income, manages local amenities and fosters local businesses.  Kincluny Development Trust was our Eureka moment. Sustainability is a term used too often and too lightly, covering a vast range of ideas.  This concept attempts to turn sustainability principles from rhetoric in a glossy brochure, to a day to day community reality.”