Community Land Trust Fund

Delivering Affordable Sustainable Housing

Financial Appraisal Tool

The financial appraisal tool will help you to assess the viability of your affordable housing project.  It can be used as a ‘living’ document and should be updated as your project develops.

A member of your Board, Committee or Steering Group might take responsibility for managing the financial appraisal tool or you may prefer to use it under the guidance of a suitably qualified advisor or consultant.

The experiences of a number of newly established CLTs has highlighted the need for a straight-forward financial appraisal tool to assist with the financial planning element of affordable housing projects and to establish the feasibility of different tenure and dwelling type options.

The financial appraisal tool that has been developed for this purpose is in the form of an Excel workbook and is accompanied by a series of context setting and ‘how to’ guidance notes.

Guidance notes

We urge you to read these guidance notes thoroughly before entering data in to the workbook.

Please read the How to use the workbook: Before you start page first.  This sets out the information you will need to complete the appraisal, and the order in which you enter the data.  It may also be helpful to print off that page as an aide memoire until you become familiar with the workbook.

Context setting

We felt that contextual information – as opposed to the guidance notes on actually completing the workbook – was necessary in order to provide important information which you must understand if you are to ‘own’ the process of developing homes for your community.  There is nothing to stop you going straight to the workbook, but we do feel that knowledge of this context is important, in order to “sense check” entry into and results from the workbook. Go to the context setting page.


Housing development has a considerable number of ‘barriers’ for newcomers, not least the systems and the jargon. You can view glossary definitions for key pieces of jargon: just roll your mouse over each word or phrase that’s brown with a dashed underline. For those using speech synthesing software – these glossary definitions are link ‘titles’. All terms are also listed on the Glossary page.


The workbook aims to cover the broad range of CLT housing development activities in England, which have many different characteristics.  These encompass:

  • Rural:  small, often high value areas, often site-specific and usually below thresholds for affordable housing requirements in local authority planning policies.
  • Urban:  larger areas, often multi-site, and usually part of a wider range of interventions to achieve social and economic regeneration of disadvantaged areas, in which there will be a contractual and/or planning obligation requirement for affordable housing.

The scope of these notes has been deliberately restricted so as not to duplicate work by others.  As a result, it is not:

  • A general guide to the development process: go to the Locality website. This website is also useful for de-mystifying jargon and the more arcane areas of housing finance.
  • A general tool to support business planning for a wide range of activities by CLTs or development trusts: go to the Community Land and Finance website.

Advice using the toolkit

Jon Watson Consulting offers an advice line for help using the toolkit or other questions, particularly concerning how the toolkit could help non-standard schemes or refurbishment projects. Advice is charged at £70/hr.

Community Land Trusts can apply to the CLT Start Up Fund to cover the cost of this advice.


There is much valuable work going on in this field by a number of different agencies and we have attempted to ensure that this financial appraisal tool complements these initiatives. We thank those other organisations and consultancies for their co-operation in its development.

Appraisal Tool developed by Jon Watson of JonWatsonconsulting

Terms of Use

  • The financial appraisal tool and all associated guidance has been made freely available
  • The financial appraisal tool and all associated guidance should not be sold by a third party
  • The copyright of the financial appraisal tool and all associated guidance remains the property of JonWatsonconsulting and the Community Land Trust Fund
  • The input of data into the financial appraisal tool and the analysis and interpretation of data outputs remains the responsibility of the Community Land Trust.  JonWatsonconsulting and the Community Land Trust Fund take no responsibility for the incorrect entry of data or its misinterpretation.