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Development trusts

Development trusts are community organisations created to enable sustainable development in their area.

They use self-help, trading for social purpose, and ownership of buildings and land, to bring about long-term social, economic and environmental benefits in their community.

Development trusts create wealth in communities – and keep it there!

Development trusts are a part of the community enterprise movement: they are community based and aim to achieve their goals by making profits through trading, providing services and acquiring assets (such as buildings and equipment); and their profits are used to create community wealth that has a lasting impact on the renewal and improvement of an area.

What are the main characteristics of a development trust?

A development trust as an organisation that is:

  • engaged in the economic, environmental and social regeneration of a defined area
  • independent, aiming for self-sufficiency and not for private profit
  • community based, owned and managed
  • actively involved in partnerships and alliances between the community, voluntary, private and public sectors

Where do development trusts operate?

Development trusts operate right across the UK, in both urban and rural areas, serving local neighbourhoods ranging in size from one to 500 square miles.

In urban areas the community of benefit may be a ward, an estate, a neighbourhood or even a small town; whilst in rural areas it may be a market town, a rural district or an island community.  This defined area of the development trust will have its own sense of identity, will benefit from the main activities of the organisation and will be where surpluses are reinvested.

What are the activities of development trusts?

Development trusts are ‘fabulous beasts’.  There is no one-size-fits-all development trust.  They come in many different shapes and sizes and are involved in a wide range of activities, services and facilities to the communities they serve. These include:

Managed workspace; business support; childcare; cafes and restaurants; affordable housing; delivery of public sector contracts; training and education; community shops; festivals; employment services; renewable energy; consultancy; advice and guidance; community newsletters; parks and gardens; sports facilities; transport and much more.