Root of England’s housing crisis ‘lies in how land is bought and sold’

Leading sector campaigners challenge government to radically reform planning gain.


Leading housing sector campaigners have signed an open letter calling on government to “think radically” over reforming the capture of planning gain for the community.

With support from across the political spectrum, the letter has been sent Communities Secretary James Brokenshire saying the root of England’s housing crisis lies in how land is bought and sold.

The letter cites the example of agricultural land granted planning permission for housing typically becoming at least 100 times more valuable.

To the signatories, more this huge uplift in value should be captured to provide wider community benefit.

The letter says if there was more confidence that more of the gains from development would “certainly” be invested in better places and better landscaping; in attractive green spaces; and in affordable housing and public services like new GP surgeries and schools, then there would be less opposition to new development and much better infrastructure.

As such, the letter urges government to think radically about reforming the way planning gain is captured for the community – setting out three key principles:

  • Monitoring the implementation of e changes to Section 106 to ensure that councils deliver and developers do not continue to “wriggle out” of their commitments.
  • 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.
  • 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.

The letter says: “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 signatories are:

Will Tanner, Director, Onward

Neil O’Brien MP, Advisory Board Member, Onward

Daniel Bentley, Director, Civitas

Polly Neate, Chief Executive, Shelter

David Orr, Chief Executive, National Housing Federation

Crispin Truman, CEO, Campaign to Protect Rural England

John Myers, Founder, London YIMBY

Jon Sparkes, CEO, Crisis

Dan Wilson Craw, Director, Generation Rent

Nicholas Boys Smith, Director, Create Streets

Tom Kibasi, Chief Executive, Institute for Public Policy Research

Joe Beswick, Head of Housing and Land, New Economics Foundation

Kate Henderson, CEO, Town and Country Planning Association

Richard Lambert, CEO, National Landlords Association

Campbell Robb, CEO, Joseph Rowntree Foundation

Charlotte Aldritt, Director, Centre for Progressive Policy

Thomas Aubrey, Advisor, Centre for Progressive Policy

Reuben Young, Director, PricedOut