Coun­cil lead­ers and MPs call for land-pur­chase re­form

The Sunday Telegraph - - News - By Ed­ward Mal­nick SUN­DAY PO­LIT­I­CAL EDITOR

COUN­CILS should be able to buy agri­cul­tural land at re­duced prices to help solve the hous­ing cri­sis, a coali­tion of lo­cal au­thor­ity lead­ers and MPs has said.

More than two dozen coun­cil lead­ers, may­ors and MPs urged min­is­ters to over­haul com­pul­sory pur­chase laws to “cap­ture” a greater amount of land- own­ers’ prof­its. The sig­na­to­ries, in­clud­ing nine Con­ser­va­tive coun­cil lead­ers and Tom Tu­gend­hat, the se­nior Tory back­bencher, want the state to be able to buy land at its “true mar­ket value”, rather than cur­rent rates, which gen­er­ally in­clude a spec­u­la­tive up­lift based on plan­ning per­mis­sion for fu­ture de­vel­op­ment.

The money saved could be used to help fund im­proved land­scap­ing, green spa­ces, af­ford­able hous­ing and lo­cal ser­vices, they said in a let­ter to James Bro­ken­shire, the Hous­ing Sec­re­tary.

The in­ter­ven­tion marks a boost for a cam­paign led by On­ward, a new cen­tre-Right think tank, and Shel­ter, the hous­ing char­ity.

The move is strongly op­posed by de­vel­op­ers, who say the cam­paign ad­vo­cates a “whole­sale ero­sion of pri­vate prop­erty rights”. They say bil­lions are al­ready levied for af­ford­able hous­ing and in­fra­struc­ture as part of the process of de­vel­op­ing land.

Some govern­ment fig­ures fear the move could pro­voke strong op­po­si­tion from landown­ers in Tory heart­lands. But Toby Lloyd, Theresa May’s hous­ing ad­viser, has in­di­cated his sup­port.

Sig­na­to­ries in­clude Paul Carter, the chair­man of the County Coun­cils Net­work and Tory leader of Kent County Coun­cil; Martin Tett, the chair­man of the Lo­cal Govern­ment As­so­ci­a­tion’s hous­ing board; Ben Bradley, the for­mer Tory vice-chair­man and Hi­lary Benn, the se­nior Labour back­bencher.

“Other coun­tries do a bet­ter job of mak­ing at­trac­tive new places to live, by mak­ing sure that de­vel­op­ment prof­its the com­mu­nity as a whole,” they said. “Un­less we learn from them, Bri­tain’s hous­ing cri­sis will re­main.”

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