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8 ways to create common good land use

Tom Kenny

On December 8th we hosted an event about exploring people’s roles in ‘Creating Common Good Land Use’. We learned a lot and this blog introduces some of the strategies we are planning to adopt in response.

Last week we hosted a range of experts in land use to talk about ‘common good land use’ and how to get there. First we introduced our view on what represents common good land use, as summarised in this short video:

We then asked people what was needed in the short- and long-term and in particular what roles they felt Shared Assets could play. We have a lot more personal follow ups to do, but here are some of the general strategies we’ve identified so far. Please get in touch if you have ideas for collaboration on any of these.

1. Signpost to existing services, organisations and resources on each of the ‘policy pages’ on our website

We want to avoid redoing work wherever possible, and bring together different resources aimed at various land-based sectors. Lots of these were raised at the event, for example Sustain guides on planning, programmes supporting food growers like Capital Growth and Growing Together, and international examples to learn from like the Greenhorns in the US and Young Agrarians in Canada targeting new farmers.

2. Raise awareness of key policy and how to use it

There was a widespread feeling that land-based projects and struggles are often not making good use of existing policy. Whether it is planning policy, subsidies, localism powers, or asset transfer, policy has a real impact on land-based projects. Moreover some existing policy can be used to fight for radical change. However many people find it hard to get the time (or inclination) to dedicate to  understanding policy. We are more convinced than ever that we have a key role in talking about policy, explaining why it is important, and trying to make it interesting! Guests suggested ‘making policy human’ and encouraging community involvement in policymaking.

3. Create spaces for discussion and collaboration between land-focused organisations, sectors, and thinkers

The diversity of people at Creating Common Good Land Use highlighted our role in bringing together different groups. On the day there was a clear demand for us to continue to create spaces for collaborations. We know we have work to do in further mapping the key actors, and identifying potential areas of conflict and opportunities for collaboration.

4. Raise public awareness of the importance of land, and try to shape a public narrative around common good land use

The need for this came up across almost every different discussion, whether people were talking about skills, planning, commissioning or access to land. Guests talked about mapping the ways people can get interested in land, supporting them, and finding ways of creating new routes. This included actively looking for ways to engage young people and disenfranchised groups. The response to our framing of ‘common good land use’ was generally positive, and we were urged to feed it into policy discussions and public debates. People were also really interested in promoting debates around rights and responsibilities associated with land – encouraging ownership to be associated with responsibility, and the recognition of community rights to land.

5. Look for and support leaders to push this forward

The importance of leaders came up in several different discussions. Leaders are needed in a wide range of spaces – whether it’s councillors, MPs, community organisers, journalists, public figures or people in professions. We will seek to identify and support potential leaders who can promote common good land use.

6. Collect examples of successful projects and trailblazers

A common theme was the importance of trailblazers and successful projects who could both show the value of the sector, and help move the mainstream. We will find and publicise these examples, and show how we can learn from them to create an environment in which common good land use will flourish.

7. Take a strategic approach to achieving long term system change

Several guests noted that real change will need a lot of planning and a strategic oversight. We will respond to suggestions such as:

  • Pro-actively developing policy
  • Creating structures for networking
  • ‘Land policy meteorology’  – pre-empting opportunities to push for change.
  • Responding to changes in the policy environment such as devolution.
  • Building relationships with policymakers
8. Help develop new products, services and structures to overcome barriers to common good land use

There were some great ideas raised in the discussions on the day, and we received support for some of the ideas we’ve raised. We are inspired to redouble our efforts to create innovations that help create common good land use. Some particular examples included Local Land and Savings Trusts to encourage investment in community land, and Land Explorer to increase access to information on land.

If you attended the event and have other reflections please share them in the comments. If you have an ideas for collaborations in the above areas, or any others, please get in touch!

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