Name of Enterprise: Stockwood CBS
Legal Structure: Community Benefit Society
Date of Deal: 10 July 2014
Transaction Size: £200,000 (Total: £2.8m)
Type of Finance/Investment: Loans from CAF Bank, Biodynamic Land Trust, Resonance’s Community Share Underwriting Fund & Community Share Offer
Expected Return: c. 5%
Impact: Community Assets
Stockwood Community Benefit Society have realised their dream through purchasing Rush Farm and Stockwood Business Park for £2.6m to hold in trust for perpertuity. With over £2m of debt raised from CAF Bank, the Biodynamic Land Trust and Resonance’s Community Share Underwriting Fund and over £400 from individual investors they embarked on a truly inclusive community project in 2013.
From the launch of its first community share offer on 16 May 2013 the Society aimed to bring Rush Farm, a 150 acre certified biodynamic and organic farm in Worcestershire, and Stockwood Business Park, an ethically and sustainably run rural business park based on the farm, into community ownership.
Rush Farm, the original inspiration for ‘The Archers’ radio drama is a working, organic farm which, as such, requires more labour and offers jobs to local people; the community co-owns it in the manner of a cooperative where one member would have one vote. Members can buy produce and get involved in the farm as well as participate in training courses and events – learning skills required to help build the future of the Benefit Society. Stockwood Business Park is an ethically and sustainably-run business, which contributes to the local, rural economy and provides local employment by renting offices and workshops to local businesses.
The deal, one of the largest community asset acquisitions of its kind, was structured by Resonance, specialists in impact investment, and eventually involved over 130 corporate and individual investors. Resonance partnered with Ethex to market the share offer with considerable success.
Daniel Brewer, Managing Director of Resonance said of the deal “It is hugely rewarding when deals like this come together and we can see the dreams and visions of communities become a reality. This asset is now locked in perpetuity for generations to come for the community to enjoy and profit from.”
Brewer continued, “CAF Bank is the largest investor and the anchor for the whole project. They have been fair, transparent and accommodating throughout this process offering terms that give room for the charitable society to grow and establish itself over the coming years. I hope we do many more deals with them.”
Martin Large of The Biodynamic Land Trust saw this as a prime example of the sort of project that they fund – protecting biodynamic land and making it accessible to the wider public “Stockwood CBS is truly an exemplar project which with the strong revenues from the business park, give an opportunity to run a series of wider events for people to learn both generally and specifically about why biodynamic farming is so important for the food we eat, the aquifers we drink from and the biodiversity we need to protect.
“It is particularly warming to see so many small investors1 participating and many buying on trust for their children and grandchildren, who will become voting shareholders on their sixteenth birthday.”