Council leaders call for ‘stronger role’ in buying land

A cross-party group of council leaders and MPs have called on the Government to give local government a ‘stronger role’ in buying land for housing.

The think tank Onward has written an open letter to the housing secretary, James Brokenshire which calls for radical changes in how land is bought and sold to solve the growing housing crisis in the UK.

In particular, the letter calls for councils to be given a ‘stronger role in buying and assembling land for housing’.

It has been signed by a number of key figures in local government, including the chairman of the County Councils’ Network, Cllr Paul Carter and the mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs.

The former planning minister, Nick Boles has also signed the open letter, along with other MPs, including Clive Betts, Karen Buck and Hilary Benn.

‘The Government should think radically about reforming the way we capture planning gain for the community,’ the letter states,

‘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.’

The full open letter is available to read on Onward’s website.


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