This open letter was published on 20 August 2018 by UKOnward and signed by 16 leading campaign organisations from across the political spectrum. It was sent to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP.
The root of England’s housing crisis lies in how we buy and sell land. When agricultural land is granted planning permission for housing to be built, the land typically becomes at least 100 times more valuable.
We, the undersigned, believe that more of this huge uplift in value should be captured to provide benefits to the community. If there was more confidence that more of the gains from development would certainly be invested in better places and better landscaping; in attractive green spaces; and in affordable housing and public services like new doctors surgeries and schools, then there would be less opposition to new development and much better infrastructure.
The Government should think radically about reforming the way we capture planning gain for the community. First, they should monitor the implementation of their welcome changes to Section 106 to ensure that councils deliver and developers do not continue to wriggle out of their commitments. Next, they could give local government a stronger role in buying and assembling land for housing, allowing them to plan new developments more effectively, share the benefits for the community and approve developments in places local people accept. Most importantly, they should reform the 1961 Land Compensation Act to clarify that local authorities should be able to compulsorily purchase land at fair market value that does not include prospective planning permission, rather than speculative “hope” value.
Too often in Britain new housing is not good enough and comes without the infrastructure and public services required to support it. Other countries do a better job of making attractive new places to live, by making sure that development profits the community as a whole. Unless we learn from them, Britain’s housing crisis will remain.
Please see here if you would like to add your name to the letter.