Council leaders and MPs call for land-purchase reform
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.”