Development trusts are defined as organisations which have 5 main criteria:
By this, we mean setting up and running an integrated and inclusive range of services or facilities which respond to the needs of a community. Projects undertaken by DTA members include property, land and community ‘asset development’, managed workspace, community businesses and economic development, arts and cultural industries, sports and leisure facilities, retail and market space, town centre management, sustainable building products and restoration, environmental improvement, renewable energy, housing, community transport, young people’s projects, education, employment skills and training, information services, crime prevention, health centres, countryside management, horticulture and agriculture, tourism and cultural industries and so on. Some members also give grants to support such activities, but this by itself does not define an organisation as a development trust.
Development trusts are found in inner cities, rural areas, on peripheral housing estates, in market and coastal towns and former coal mining areas. All have a defined sense of place.
Development Trusts are in the business of sustainable change. Development trusts as independent social and community enterprise organisations, aim to avoid over-dependence on a single funder and also aim to reduce dependence on grant aid in the long term. In order to generate diverse income streams and become sustainable development trusts may create an income-earning asset base and build up trading operations, offer a range of community services, develop enterprises or secure income through delivery of contracts or services.
We recognise that in poor communities there is often a ‘social deficit’ and ‘investment’ funding and contributions from public or charitable funds may continue to be necessary to deliver long term sustainable regeneration and meet this deficit or in recognition of the services provided..
Surpluses are applied to the social objectives of the development trust rather than for private gain.
There is no standard organisational form or legal status for a development trust. Most register as a company limited by guarantee and in a few cases as a Community Interest Company or as an Industrial and Provident society. Many register as charities. We can also accept into full membership organisations which are clearly committed to becoming development trusts as ‘Emerging Members’ and subscribe to the above key principles and our values.
Development trusts are driven by and accountable to their community in various ways. Some have Boards elected by a ballot of all those in the area, others have a membership base from which elections can be made. Others have a structure in which community groups, the local authority, local businesses and others are represented as local stakeholders. Others have arrangements to safeguard balance between sectors or interest groups or involve a mix of people through co-options. Most trusts also derive their community legitimacy not only through constitutional arrangements but also from day to day practice – the ways in which we involve local people in our work in decision making and in the running community enterprises or services and undertaking social audits to evidence this approach.
Development trusts occupy the place where the business, public, community and voluntary sectors meet. This is a position of unique strength, but also means that for a development trust to realise its potential it must build active alliances with all these sectors. An organisation which works in an isolated, exclusive or sectarian way is not a development trust.