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A village asset


How Northiam Parish Council purchased St Francis Fields, for the long-term benefit of Northiam village

In 2020, after a village consultation, the Parish Council purchased St Francis Fields (SFF) from the Blue Cross animal rescue charity to bring it under the control of the community and prevent the possibility of a major housing development on the site.

A 50-year government loan of £1.4m was taken out by the council to pay for it. It is a fixed interest loan and interest and capital repayments are paid from the parish precept (which makes up part of everyone’s council tax), as well as from the income of £25,000 a year that is raised by letting out the two bungalows and the stables on the site.

The capital debt, the repayments and the amount we all pay reduce every year until the loan is paid off in full in 2070.

In 2023/24, the loan repayment will cost a Band D household just 92p per week (with a 25% reduction for single-person households), and this will go down each year.

So what is the Community Interest Company?

It was stated in the application for the government loan that a Community Interest Company (CIC) would be set up to run the estate on behalf of the Council.

The Community Interest Company is now run by a board of eight directors. We are all village residents with a variety of professional backgrounds, and we give our time on a voluntary basis.

The wording of the Company’s constitution ensures that no director can ever earn money or benefit from the Community Interest Company's  business. Any surplus income the Company generates has to be reinvested for community benefit – except in exceptional circumstances, this will be back into St Francis Fields.

The consultation leaflet, 2018

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