William Eichler 06 July 2021

England’s first land commission publishes ‘radical proposals’ for land use

England’s first land commission publishes ‘radical proposals’ for land use image

England’s first commission to review the use of land for community wealth building has called for all land use to be directed towards achieving social well-being and environmental sustainability.

Established by Liverpool City Region (LCR) metro mayor Steve Rotheram, the commission recommends the creation of a permanent land commission for LCR to ensure publicly owned land promotes well-being and sustainability.

It also proposes the creation of a citizen observatory for LCR to enable citizens to monitor progress and generate ideas to inform land policy in the city region.

‘In the post-pandemic world, my focus is on building a region that is greener, fairer and stronger. I think that making better, more productive use of land can be a really important part of that,’ said Mayor Rotheram.

‘I said when it launched that the commission would not just be a talking shop that gave some vague recommendations at the end. I’m delighted to see that Commissioners have taken those words to heart and produced some challenging proposals; now my job is to act on them.’

The commission also recommends the creation of a new commons for LCR – a body to identify vacant underused land and property and make it available for community use. This would also be supported by a planning system which allocated land for socially valuable uses.

Cllr Graham Morgan, Liverpool City Region Combined Authority Portfolio Holder for Housing and Spatial Framework, commented: ‘It is very exciting to see the radical proposals put forward by this, England’s first Land Commission focused on how we use land for community wealth building.

‘This kind of radical thinking is vital in helping us to address the challenge of making the best possible use of publicly-owned land, as we strive to become the fairest and most socially inclusive city region in the country. I applaud the Commissioners for producing a really valuable piece of work.’

The commission was chaired by leading think tank the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES) and met for five online meetings between September and December 2020.

Neil McInroy, chief executive of CLES and chair of the Commission, said: ‘Land must work to serve the needs of communities, not simply the need for financial return. Liverpool City Region is already home to a rich array of community-led models of land ownership and use. These represent a powerful alternative to a narrow understanding of land as a financial asset, which has been dominant in the UK for too long.

‘At the heart of the Commission's recommendations are the drive to realise the full social, cultural, economic and environmental benefits of land – which in the end belongs to all of us. Leading this Commission has been a truly informative process and we heartily recommend it to other places who want their land to serve the needs of the whole community.’

The Brownfield Land Release Fund image

The Brownfield Land Release Fund

To what extent does this early initiative of the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities deliver on the ‘levelling up’ agenda? Lawrence Turner reports.
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