England’s first Land Commission focused on community wealth building launched

Steve Rotheram

Liverpool Metro Mayor, Steve Rotheram, today announced the establishment of England’s first Land Commission specifically established to review the use of public land for community wealth building.

He argues that, since the 1980s, land has come to be primarily treated as a financial asset, serving as a collateral against which banks create mortgage debt.

This has led to rising house prices and housing shortages, and has reduced overall productivity, with an increasing share of investment diverted to land from other more productive areas, he added.

Steve Rotheram said: “The unprecedented circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, with all its economic consequences, make it even more important for us to ensure that we can wring the maximum possible community value from our land assets to encourage sustainable economic recovery.

“I’ve brought together a commission made up of senior figures from the worlds of academia, property development and planning.

“I have challenged them to think imaginatively and come back to me with radical recommendations for how we can make the best use of publicly-owned land to make this the fairest and most socially inclusive city region in the country.

“Through success stories such as Baltic Creative we’ve already seen alternative, socially-conscious approaches to land management in the city region.

“I can’t wait to hear the commission’s recommendations for how we improve the management and use of land to deliver the greatest benefit for the people of the Liverpool City Region.”

The commission, which has its first meeting today (September 9) will be coordinated by the combined authority in collaboration with think tank, the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES).

Commissioners will participate in four online meetings over the course of September, October and November 2020, and CLES will take responsibility for drafting the final report of the commission, based on the output of the meetings.

Neil McInroy, CLES director, said: “We are very excited to be working with Liverpool City Region on this important community wealth building project.

“Far too often, land use in the UK has ended up being dominated by the pursuit of corporate profit, rather than serving the economic, social and environmental needs of the whole community.

“It’s fanciful to wait for things to ‘go back to normal’ after COVID-19 – instead we should seize the moment to do things differently.

“The Land Commission is a pioneering step in this direction, that will serve as an example for other city regions across the country.”

The aim of the meetings will be to develop creative approaches to use of land in the region, for example through innovative processes and ownership models – eg Community Land Trusts and Public-Commons Partnerships.

The commission will be action-oriented, with the aim of generating ideas for concrete projects, rather than only general recommendations.

The Land Commission is made up of: Claire Dove, Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise Crown Representative; Hugh Ellis, policy director, Town and Country Planning Association; Indy Johar, executive director, Dark Matter Laboratories; Britt Jurgensen, co-creator Homebaked Community Land Trust; Liam Kelly, chief executive, Make Liverpool CIC; Prof Alex Lord, Lever Chair of Town and Regional Planning, University of Liverpool; Kathie Pollard, policy officer, Scottish Land Commission; Erika Rushton, director, The Beautiful Ideas Company; Guy Shrubsole, campaigner and author of Who Owns England?; Amahra Spence, director, MAIA Creatives; Kate Swade, director, Shared Assets; Dr Matthew Thompson, Leverhulme Research Fellow, Heseltine Institute, University of Liverpool.