Research and Evaluation

Evaluation of the CLT Start Up Fund

Under contract with the National CLT Network, Middlemarch associate Dr Helen Lawson will be evaluating the extent to which the CLT Start Up Fund achieved its objectives and what implications the findings have for the future work of the National CLT Network and organisations involved in the wider sector.

The Evaluation aims to answer the following questions:

  • What have the supported CLTs delivered to date, and what can they be expected to deliver in future years?
  • How many CLTs are active following the support received?
  • What is the success rate of the Fund?
  • What is the fiscal value of the technical support provided in comparison to the technical support offered through Fund? (I.e. how much additional time have advisors spent supporting groups unfunded?)
  • Do CLTs feel they could have made the steps and achievements they have without the Fund?
  • What do CLTs/advisors/hubs feel was missing from the service?
  • What do CLTs/advisors/hubs perceive to be the most valuable feature of the project?
  • Are there common challenges between the CLTs supported? What are these challenges?
  • Did the grant make a significant difference, and what other funding needs have the CLTs identified?
  • How far has the profile of CLTs increased among local and national policymakers and the general public? To what extent can this be ascribed to the CLT Start Up Fund, and to the National CLT Network’s wider advocacy campaign?

In addition to this, the evaluation will aim to establish the following regarding the wider impact and future needs of the sector:

  • To what extent is early stage support necessary in order for projects to succeed?
  • What are the common themes across projects that mean they succeed or struggle?
  • Is there still a role for an early stage technical support fund given that there has been significant funding released into the sector in recent history? What might this look like?
  • What have the supported CLTs delivered to date, and what can they be expected to deliver in future years?
  • How many CLTs are active following the support received?
  • What is the success rate of the Fund?
  • What impact has the Start Up Fund had on the wider funding environment for CLTs? (e.g. to what extent might the Fund have been an influencing factor in the establishment of the Government’s Community Housing Fund).
  • What social impact have CLTs supported through the Start Up Fund had on communities in terms of capacity, philanthropy, outreach, cohesion and so on?

In addition to evaluating the success of the CLT Start Up Fund against its original objectives, the report will also to take stock of the changing context CLTs are operating in and make recommendations on interventions that the National CLT Network and others could make to further support the development of CLTs. It will also focus on a smaller number of CLTs (20) across the spectrum of support provided to conduct more in-depth focused assessments


Data Champion for Community Led Homes

Middlemarch’s role has been to help CLH build a sector-wide database in order for the agency to provide effective and efficient operational and financial support to community led homes groups and hubs.


North Somerset Council has completed a first-stage review of its landholdings and assets to identify possible development options. This has identified a variety of small sites across the area, some of which might potentially be suitable for community-led housing.

NSC has appointed Middlemarch for a short piece of feasibility work based on the tasks below:

  • Working with NSC officers, agree criteria for potential sites and reduce the initial longlist down to a more manageable number of the most suitable opportunities. This will include consideration of practical issues such as access constraints and current uses, and an understanding of what is needed from the community’s point of view to make a site work.
  • Liaising with selected communities and stakeholders, assess local levels of interest and capacity to deliver community-led housing. This will include discussion with Registered Providers, particularly where NSC assets are adjacent to their existing land.
  • Using the information gathered above, ‘match’ communities and potential sites. Where appropriate, commission early feasibility work including early planning and legal advice.

The outcome will be a shortlist of the most promising potential projects, along with recommendations on the steps and support needed to help get community structures in place and schemes underway.