Policy areas

Access To Land & Land Reform

Ownership and access to land in the UK are historic issues and remain amongst the most pervasive structural barriers to common good land use. Land is too expensive, ownership is extremely concentrated and we don’t have clear information on any of it. Yet, fundamental reforms are rarely discussed in public policy circles.

Key issues:

  • Land is too expensive. Most people are aware of the affordable housing crisis, fewer know that the price of agricultural land has trebled in the past decade.
  • Current policy drives land away from common good use. Subsidies and taxation both limit the social, economic and environmental productivity of land and encourage people to treat it as a speculative asset.
  • Land ownership in the UK is among the most concentrated in the world, with almost 70% of the land owned by 0.6% of the population.
  • Poor public awareness of both historic and current land struggles.
  • All these problems are exacerbated by a lack of transparent information on land ownership and use.
The passing of the Scottish Land Reform Bill and the Brexit vote have stimulated a wider debate about UK land reform in the media. In response to this increasing momentum, we want to work with others to develop and test a shared agenda for land reform.

What needs to change:

  1. The UK government should make it clear that land is a common good that should be managed in the public interest, and work with other stakeholders to explore the implications of this.
  2. Communities need better mechanisms and support for purchasing land where they can improve its management.
  3. Agricultural subsidies and inheritance tax relief need reform, and a land value tax should be given serious consideration.
  4. We need to increase public awareness of the interconnected issues of land ownership and inequality.
  5. We need free, open, and complete records of land ownership.

Our projects

Further resources

  • Land for What is a network of individuals and organisations, that is exploring common ground between different struggles related to land use, and developing an agenda for reform.
  • Access to Land is a study exploring access to land for agro-ecological farming across Europe.
  • Who Owns England is a blog by Guy Shrubsole investigating land ownership in England
  • The Land Magazine is a must-read occasional for anyone interested in land use

Scroll down to the posts below to read the latest updates on our work in this policy area.

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Related publications

Research reports and publications written by the Shared Assets team

Related news and opinion

Blog articles, news and opinion pieces from the Shared Assets team

Why we need experiments in land use

Following our team away day at Letchworth Garden City, Tom blogs about why we need to make it easier for people to experiment with new ways of using land.

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Can networks join up land activism?

Power to Change’s Peer Networks programme is now in full swing. As we learn more and more about how to run sustainable, effective networks, we’re beginning to apply this knowledge to various aspects of our work with land. First, we look at how diverging identities, values and purposes affect networks of land activists.

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Learning from Land Reform

Here at Shared Assets we support the development of new models of managing land that deliver shared social, economic and environmental benefits. However, making land work for everyone will require changes to public policy as well as new business models.

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Opening up the Land Registry – a letter to Greg Clark

Accessible information on ownership is crucial to making land work for everyone. We recently brought together a broad coalition of organisations interested in opening up the Land Registry. There was a real thirst for change, and as the first step we have sent a joint letter to the Minister responsible for the Land Registry.

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Democratising Land Data

“If we want people to play a bigger part in our society, we need to give them the information.” Despite these words from David Cameron in 2010, lack of accessible data about land remains a problem. In this blog we explain why we think access to land data is such an important issue for land based social enterprise and explore some ways in which it might be improved. Let us know what you think.

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