UK housing crisis could be saved by land trusts, report suggests

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land trusts

A report titled ‘Remodelling Capitalism’ produced by City, University of London and Friends Provident Foundation suggests that land trusts could manage all public land that is suitable for future development and offer plans to transform it into social housing for the next generation

Findings from the report show that land trusts could address the current housing crisis in the UK by increasing the supply of land at a reasonable cost for public investment and social housing.

The report outline the following five objectives that the land trusts would follow:

  1. Retain public land in social ownership
  2. Acquire additional land at existing use value
  3. Build social housing on public land
  4. Lease land to the private sector for residential and commercial development, with strict conditions on tenure, infrastructure and affordability
  5. Ensure that land with planning permission held by builders or investors is developed in a reasonable time frame.

Co-author Duncan McCann, a junior research fellow at City, thinks the proposals offer an out of the box approach to tackle the issue: “These are radical, but feasible proposals that would transform the way we own and manage national wealth.

“At the local level, they would ensure that land for development remained in public ownership while dramatically boosting the supply of new housing.”

The report’s authors argue that the state should take responsibility of land owned by the public estate and give back to the public by creating future housing developments that will benefit future generations to come.

Project leader, Professor Steve Schifferes, said: “Social wealth funds are powerful tools that can transform the economy by boosting public assets, strengthening the public finances and tackling inter-generational inequality.

“A regional fund would boost local democracy and give the community a stake in solving the housing crisis.”

The report provides evidence of the how the UK has already successfully implemented some elements of their approach to show how the land trusts could work.

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