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Coalition calls for compulsory purchase rules to be changed

A coalition of pressure groups has called on the Government to allow councils to buy agricultural land for cheaper prices in a bid to solve the ongoing housing crisis.

The group led by the Conservative think tank Onward has written an open letter to the housing secretary James Brokenshire, which calls on ministers to think ‘radically about reforming the way we capture planning gain for the community’

In particular, it warns other countries do a ‘better job of making attractive new places to live’, by making sure that ‘development profits the community as a whole’.

The coalition also includes the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the Town and Country Planning Association and the housing charity Shelter.

‘The root of England’s housing crisis lies in how we buy and sell land,’ the open letter states.

‘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.’

In particular, the group call for changes to Section 106 planning agreements to ensure that councils deliver and ‘developers do not continue to wriggle out of their commitments’.

It also calls for councils to have 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.

And most importantly, it also calls for changes to the 1961 Land Compensation Act so local authorities can 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.’

An MHCLG spokesperson said: ‘We’re helping more local authorities build new affordable homes and establish vibrant communities where people want to live, work and raise families.

‘Through the National Planning Policy Framework, we’re ensuring that developers know the contributions expected of them and local communities are clear about the infrastructure they will let along with new homes.

‘We await the letter and will respond in due course.’

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