Grand Union Village

This case study shows how a community development trust can ensure the on-going collaboration of stakeholders in the creation of locally relevant amenities and services.

Location: Northolt, west London


Grand Union Village is a major development on brownfield, former industrial land in Northolt, West London. The site required extensive decontamination before building could begin. The original plan (c. 2000) was for 700 ‘eco-homes’ including 35% affordable homes and key worker housing. A Community Development Trust was set up to promote a strong and active community, with financial support from the developer, Taylor Wimpey, and the housing association, Genesis HA.

Eighteen years later the community appears to be active and sustainable but it has not necessarily developed as originally envisaged. There are a much higher proportion of rented homes than originally intended as a result of investors buying properties to let.

Project details

Grand Union Village Community Development Trust (CDT) is “intended to provide a place where residents, stakeholders and local voluntary and community groups can meet together for social, recreational and community purposes”. (1) The CDT is a company limited by guarantee with charitable status.

Development Trusts are defined as “enterprises with social objectives which are actively engaged in the most disadvantaged areas to bring together residents, voluntary organisations, religious and other groups and local authority councillors and planners”. (3) CDTs have a more specific role in managing land for development and aiming to maximising community involvement in the development process.

Grand Union Village CDT was set up to give new residents a greater stake in the way their homes and the new community were to be developed and managed. The scale of the development – originally envisaged as 700 new homes, however in practice this has become over 950 – meant it was worthwhile investing resources to create a standing organisation representing residents’ interests.

The CDT has a Board of up to 19 members representing the developer, housing associations, local authorities, a representative of local businesses, two ward councillors, and up to eight residents. It aims to support a ‘sustainable and inclusive community’ by involving partner organisations and residents managing facilities and open space for the benefit of the community, supporting other initiatives such as a car share club, and promoting employment and training opportunities for residents.

The Trust employs a Community Development Officer and Admin Assistant.

The facilities managed by the Trust include large and small meeting rooms plus a kitchen and toilets. These appear to be well-used by residents, the community’s Facebook page promotes events such as the Christmas Fayre, children’s dance classes, a Halloween party, soft play, massage, boxfit, first aid courses, English classes, Arabic classes for children, a Macmillan coffee morning and swimming classes. (4) It also includes police information and details of local job opportunities. A ‘welcome pack’ is provided for new residents.

Amenities include a medical centre and three shops – a supermarket, hair and beauty salon and a takeaway. In the original plans provision was made for a private leisure facility, but this does not appear to have gone ahead.

Key Details


Taylor Wimpey contributed £155k and Genesis Housing Association £100k to the initial set-up of the CDT. Residents pay an annual service charge, which covers the CDT’s on-going running costs.

The Section 106 Agreement worth £6 million mainly covers educational and transport needs associated with the development.

Community involvement

Consultation on the development began in 1999 and in 2000 a ‘community-planning weekend’ was held, attended by 300 people. Planning consent was secured in 2002 and the first residents moved in 2004.
The planning process for this project was “seen as a model for the time”. (2) Local community members appear to have played a significant role in developing the vision for the site, including regeneration of the canal basin and the development of community facilities and workspaces.

Who are the key stakeholders involved?

• Residents
• Prospective new residents
• NHS (health centre)
• Developer (Taylor Wimpey)
• Housing associations (Genesis; Catalyst; and ASRA – now part of PA Housing)
• The London Borough Councils of Ealing and Hillingdon
• Local businesses

All these stakeholders are represented on the Board of the CDT

So what?

Impact: What are the outcomes? Who benefits?

The main beneficiaries appear to be the residents, who have secured significant levels of investment from the developer and housing associations in creating a sustainable community.

Taylor Wimpey have stated that were they to be involved in another project of this type they would stipulate a higher profit margin (30% rather than 20%) and a longer development period (ten rather than eight years) and would also expect to make a smaller contribution through the Section 106 Agreement. (2)

The developer negotiated an increase in housing densities to 963 homes (the original plans were for 700). While the project was commercially viable in the financial environment of twenty years ago, it might not be an attractive proposition for a developer now.

Costs of owning or renting are comparable to other similar areas of London but are likely to be beyond the reach of people on low to moderate incomes.

There has been a high level of investment by ‘buy to let’ owners – around two thirds of all the homes in the village development are now rented. (2) This may have implications for community life, as more transient renters will be less likely to commit to the community. However, other renters may be attracted to the CDT and may wish to become engaged in their neighbourhood.

The high number of renters, and adults sharing, means that car ownership has risen and there are conflicts about parking.

What are the risks and challenges for initiating and also maintaining this initiative?

The changing social mix of the community described above may bring some challenges, although the programme of community events suggests a community that is comfortable with its diversity.

At the time the development was built residents found it relatively easy to secure mortgages – this may be rather more difficult in the current environment. (2)

The developer and housing association were willing to invest substantial sums in the CDT; it may be less likely that similar sums would be made available today.

Key learning

Development Trusts have ‘credibility’ and are able to attract funding but delivering this model takes time, commitment and a significant level of resources. It is probably best suited to larger scale developments.

Source/s of information:

1. Website of Grand Union Village Community Development Trust;
2. 2011 report by Sustainable Urban Neighbourhoods Network citing learning from GUV experience;
3. The Guide to Development Trusts and Partnerships;
4. Grand Union Village Community Centre Events and Community Page;