England’s First Land Commission Focused on Community Wealth Building

Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, has today announced the establishment of England’s first Land Commission specifically established to review the use of public land for community wealth building, to be delivered in partnership with CLES.

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.

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 (Wednesday 9 September) will be coordinated by the Combined Authority in collaboration with the leading 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, Director of CLES, 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 (e.g. 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 the following members:

Claire Dove OBE, DL 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 Officer, Make Liverpool CIC
Professor 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