The first land commission in England to review the use of public land for community wealth building.
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.
The power to hold a land commission was afforded by Liverpool City Region’s devolution deal. The Liverpool City Region Combined Authority was keen to make the most of this opportunity, and to explore opportunities to make better use of publicly owned land in the City Region.
The Commission convened in September 2020, publishing the final report in July 2021.
Facilitated by CLES, the Commission gathered together thirteen experts on democratic land reform, ranging from activists involved in community land trusts, makerspaces and social enterprise incubation to academics and national planning policy reformers and international campaigners for the commons. They were invited to “think imaginatively and come back…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”.
The Commission took a nimble approach, drawing on the expertise and experience of its members. They drew particular inspiration from the rich array of community-led experiments around land ownership and use already present in the Liverpool City Region.
Their final report made 13 action-focused recommendations, including:
Developing a long-term vision, in which all land use is progressively directed towards achieving social well-being and environmental sustainability.
Establishing a permanent land commission for Liverpool City Region, to lead this work.
Initiating a citizen observatory for Liverpool City Region, to enable citizens to monitor progress and generate innovative ideas to inform land policy in the City Region.
Creating a new commons for Liverpool City Region, a body to identify underused land and property and make it available for community use.
Advancing progressive use of the planning system, including allocating land for socially valuable uses and reinvesting for collective benefit.
Investing in green infrastructure, including exploring the creation of market garden cities and enhancing funding for public parks.
Setting up an open access online map of publicly owned land in Liverpool City Region
Publishing an annual report on land ownership and use in the City Region.