One of the founding members of Aldingbourne, Barnham and Eastergate CLT (ABE CLT), Louise Beaton, was awarded the OBE in the New Years Honours for her work nationally for rural communities. She has advised and worked with the Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE) Network of charities, which includes Action in rural Sussex (AirS), for 40 years, contributing to changes in policy and legislation which have helped volunteers to maintain financially viable and up-to-date community buildings. Louise worked for 15 years for AirS as Community Halls Adviser, for whom she remains a consultant, and is a trustee of national charity ACRE.
ABE CLT was set up in 2018 at the initiative of Aldingbourne Parish Council. Louise served as the first Chair of ABE CLT until September 2020, when Mike Link was elected Chair. Louise remains an active Board member and Minute Secretary.
Mike Link said, “ABE CLT has benefitted greatly from the help of Louise’s former colleague at AirS, Community Led Housing Advisor Graham Maunders, who has continued to advise the CLT as we enter into negotiations with a number of landowners to deliver affordable housing for people living and working locally to the two parishes. Arun District Council provided grant support for a Housing Needs Survey which showed that in 2019, 46 households in the two parishes were in need of affordable housing locally. Aldingbourne Parish Council and Barnham and Eastergate Parish Council have also provided funding towards up front establishment and professional costs.“
Louise said, “Although much of my career has been spent working with volunteers running community facilities, nationally and in Sussex, delivering affordable housing for local people has always been high on my agenda. My early working life was spent fostering community led planning in Hampshire, where I quickly learnt that new market led housing in rural areas was usually unaffordable for young local people and tended to be bought by incomers. The consequence was that families forced to work elsewhere lacked the childcare and stability provided by wider family living nearby, and that communities were losing the younger generation, people who understood the importance of supporting local community organisations such as cricket clubs, and that schools, pubs and shops were closing. Where older people had day-to-day support from younger family members, they were able to remain in their own home longer without costly care.
I became a member of the English Villages Housing Association, whose Shared Ownership housing was a partner to affordable rented housing provided by the Rural Housing Trust, a win-win that broke the vicious circle caused by lack of affordable housing. I brought that experience to Aldingbourne Parish Council’s Neighbourhood Plan Team and spoke at the Planning Inquiry into the Arun Local Plan to try and ensure it adequately provided affordable housing for people living and working in our villages. Having worked for AirS, I introduced the Parish Councils to their excellent Community Led Housing Team, which has been working closely with Arun District Council supporting the formation of CLTs in the District. Since the days when I was a member of EVHA the planning and funding of affordable housing has become far more complex and we couldn’t deliver without that support”.
We would like to congratulate Louise on this very well-deserved honour in recognition of her hard work and dedication.