CPRE’s recently joined a growing group of organisations calling for the development of a new land use strategy for England. Now we need to translate broad-based support for this idea into action
The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) recently published a pamphlet calling for Government to develop a new strategy for land use in England. You may have seen it picked up in articles in The Guardian and The Times. CPRE joins a number of organisations, including Shared Assets, which argue that government needs to take a fundamental and holistic look at how land is used and controlled. To name just a few:
- The Social Economy Alliance: In 2015 this alliance of more than 700 individuals and organisations called for a Royal Commission on Land Reform to tackle fundamental flaws in the way the UK manages land.
- Land for What: Over the last two years Land for What has brought together groups engaged in struggles around housing, agriculture, public space, planning, and the environment. It focused on land as the common issue underlying all of these and pushed for a national discussion on what land should be used for.
- The People’s Food Policy: Due to be published later this year, the people’s food policy articulates a vision for a fairer food system and how it can be realised. This will include calls for a Land Commission for England.
While there will inevitably be conflict over the content of a land use strategy, there are also some areas that find broad support. Again to name just a few:
- Reform of agricultural subsidies so that money only goes to producing the social and environmental goods people need
- The need to understand the role land plays in crises in housing, the environment, food and more.
- The need to identify and protect key natural capital/ environmental assets such as soil
- The need to take a strategic approach to preventing and adapting to climate change
- The need to create a way to capture uplifts in land value created by planning decisions
This process has already taken place in Scotland, with the second Scottish Land Use Strategy (2016-21) published last year. Scotland has seen a lively popular and political debate around land use that has led to land reform legislation, premised on the idea that the goal of land use should be “the common good of all the people of Scotland“.
It’s great that CPRE have made such a clear and convincing call for the need for a land use strategy. It adds to an accelerating energy for change from a wide range of organisations and individuals. In combination with the space for reforms created by Brexit, there is a great opportunity to consider the future of land use in the UK.
To make the most of this opportunity we need to engage both government and the general public in a national discussion about how land is used and controlled.