Over the past two years, the Scottish Land Commission has undertaken a review of land for housing. Comprising of six research papers informed by case studies across Scotland and Europe, the culmination of this work is a series of five recommendations proposing a new model where the public sector takes a leading role in the housing land market to create places people want to live at prices they can afford.
The Review has identified that there needs to be significant reform to the way land is brought forward for housing and development in Scotland, and the recommendations outline a number of changes that can be made to reform the housing land market so that it better serves the people and communities of Scotland in a fair and productive way. The public sector needs to play an active role in enabling housing delivery by providing land for new homes. The public sector, working in partnership with the private sector, will share the risk and reward, enabling developers to focus on building houses and creating better places, allowing more affordable homes of all tenures to be built. SLC have made five recommendations that set out the building blocks, which – taken together over time – will provide a practical way to change Scotland’s approach to land for housing so that it better serves people and communities.
The five recommendations, or ‘building blocks,’ are:
- Establish a new recyclable fund to help create a network of ‘place pioneers’ – an ambitious programme of affordable housing delivery utilising repurposed publicly owned property assets in town centres and privately owned housing stock in remote rural communities.
- Empower local authorities to designate Regeneration Partnership Zones to speed up the redevelopment of land in fragmented or multiple ownership so that landowners and public authorities can share the long-term uplift in land values.
- Introduce new approach(es) to land value capture to ensure that uplifts in land value arising from public investment in infrastructure and land remediation are captured effectively and invested in place-making.
- Create a new public land agency, with the power and resources to ensure that a steady supply of development-ready sites is brought forward at the right time and in the right places to meet Scotland’s housing needs.
- Introduce a new transparency obligation that would require options agreements and conditional contracts over land to be disclosed on a public register that is kept updated alongside regular publication of a statistical bulletin on land sales prices.
A Land Focus summarising the areas of research, the findings, and the recommendations will can be found below.
The key messages from the Review of Land for Housing are:
- For Scotland to deliver more and better homes in the right places, we need to reform how land is brought forward for development. It needs to be done in a way that works in the public interest and contributes to an innovative and successful economy.
- Our current approach to housing isn’t working: it is too reliant on a model focused on maximising shareholder value rather than the public interest, ignoring some places that need housing most such as rural Scotland and regeneration areas.
- The Scottish Land Commission has made recommendations to transform the way land is brought forward for housing in Scotland, enabling the public sector to take a more proactive role in how land is allocated, assembled and developed, sharing the risk but also to benefit from the rewards.
- By collaborating with the private sector to provide land for development it reduces the risk for housebuilders, allowing them to deliver more homes and better places.
- The recommendations set out five building blocks which, taken together over time, provide a practical pathway to change Scotland’s approach and deliver better places at prices people can afford.