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Report aims to tackle land ownership

Tuesday 04 June 2019

A new report commissioned by the Labour Party considers radical reforms to land policy in order to address “many of the problems and injustices of British society”.

The Labour Party states that since 1995 the value of land in the UK increased from around £1 trillion to over £5 trillion and say that it is putting land for housing, farming and other purposes out of reach for growing numbers of ordinary people. By 2016, the cost of land accounted, on average, for 70% of the price of a home. The price of agricultural land has increased 462% since 1995.

The report's authors – a group of academics, economists and land experts – argue that the way in which land is owned, controlled and made use of underpins an array of urgent social problems, including economic inequality, the housing crisis, repeated financial crises and environmental degradation.

Labour has welcomed the report's recommendations and will be considering them as part of the party’s policy development process in advance of the next General Election.

Recommendations

On land ownership the wide-ranging report recommends:

  • Publishing all information about land ownership, control, subsidies and planning as open data, including the identities of beneficial owners to increase transparency.
  • Introducing a Community Right to Buy based on the Scottish model, in the other three nations of the United Kingdom.
  • Introducing Compulsory Sale Orders, which would grant public authorities the power to require land that has been left vacant or derelict for a defined period to be sold by public auction.
  • Introducing of an Offshore Company Property Tax payable by companies based, or beneficially owned, offshore who own land in the UK.

On urban planning the report recommends:

  • Reforming the Land Compensation Act to enable public authorities to acquire land at prices closer to its current use value, rather than its potential future residential value.
  • Stopping the sell-off of public land to the highest bidder and use public land to deliver affordable housing and other social needs.
  • Democratic participation in planning by introducing a form of jury service for plan-making.

On rural land the report recommends:

  • Widening access to farming, by halting and reversing the sell-off of County Farms and in suitable areas creating opportunities for small farmers.
  • Extending the planning system to cover major farming and forestry decisions.
  • Adopting the Scottish principle of a Right to Roam across all uncultivated land and water, excluding gardens and other exceptions.


Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office Jon Trickett, said:
“For too long, people across the country have had little or no say over the decisions that affect their communities and the places in which they live. So much of this can be traced back to the broken system of land ownership.

“Concentration of land in the hands of a few has led to unwanted developments, unaffordable house prices, financial crises and environmental degradation.

“Labour is committed to tackling these head on and delivering a fundamental shift in wealth and power from the few to the many. I commend the authors of this report for the work they have done in setting out these new and radical ideas. We will be studying these recommendations in detail.”

Responding in The Times, James Brokenshire, the housing secretary, criticised the plans for what he called a “tax bombshell”. He said: “These proposals are extraordinary and deeply damaging in equal measure. Labour will stop at nothing to hammer families with more tax and make home ownership a pipe dream for future generations. Plans to seize land into public ownership also show Labour’s true colours of more and more state control.”

The full report

What NAEA Propertymark are doing

NAEA Propertymark responded to the Empty Homes in Scotland consultation in May 2019 where they called for better use of existing powers to combat empty homes and the promotion of community lead approaches to tackle the cause of empty homes.

Empty Homes in Scotland

NAEA Propertymark also responded to HM Treasury’s consultation on Stamp Duty Land Tax: Non-UK Resident Surcharge consultation in May 2019.

Stamp Duty Land Tax: Non-UK Resident Surcharge