Tag Archives: NIC

land value capture for communities

Government looks Onward to land value capture reform

By Kasia Banas, Consultant

The government has been called on to consider radical reform of land value capture for communities in an open letter addressed to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP.

The letter from conservative think-tank Onward was signed by 16 organisations including the National Housing Federation, CPRE and Shelter, and identified ‘the way we buy and sell land’ as the primary cause of England’s housing crisis.

The signatories believe more gains from uplifts in land value need to be invested into communities, which will lead not only to less opposition to new development, but also to much better infrastructure. They propose the following three main steps to achieving that:

  • Monitoring the implementation of changes to Section 106 to ensure that councils deliver, and developers do not continue to ‘wriggle out’ of their commitments,
  • Giving local government a stronger role in buying and assembling land for housing, allowing them to plan new developments more effectively, share the benefits for the community and approve developments in places local people accept,
  • Reform of the 1961 Land Compensation Act to clarify that local authorities should be able to compulsorily purchase land at fair market value that does not include prospective planning permission, rather than speculative “hope” value.

Finally, the letter encourages government to look for good practice examples across the borders, to other countries that are considered to be doing a better job in creating desirable new places for the benefit of all.

There are however, voices from the sector that question the early enthusiasm that these ideas have sparked. Matthew Spry, Senior Director at Lichfields UK, cast a shadow of doubt on the comprehensiveness of the proposals and stipulated that some practical questions need to be answered about them. These include issues around the purpose of capturing land value, resources, a two-tier land market, fairness and more. He warned that the failure to consider these could result in “undermining delivery in a system that, for all its many faults, is beginning to supply more of the homes we need”.

The letter was published a month after the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC), the government’s infrastructure advisory body, recommended that councils be granted greater powers to capture any uplift in land value arising from planning and infrastructure decisions.

They also called for powers for local authorities to “levy zonal precepts on council tax, where public investments in infrastructure drive up surrounding property values by 2021″ and for Section 106 pooling restrictions to be removed by 2020 to increase effectiveness of the planning value system.

The government has committed to present the NIC’s assessment before parliament, and to respond to it within six months.

On 5 September 2018, the Housing Minster Kit Malthouse is due to appear at the meeting of the Communities and Local Government Committee, which is conducting an inquiry into land value capture. His evidence may provide an early indication as to the government’s position on the proposed changes to the land value capture system.

National Infrastructure Commission

Two wheels good, four wheels bad for Cambridge-Oxford competition winner

A cluster of green, car-free villages connected by cycle routes, with swathes of common land and shared amenities to make sure communities interact with each other. This is future of growth in the Oxford-Cambridge-Milton Keynes corridor, if the winning entry to the National Infrastructure Commission competition is anything to go by.

Launched in June, the competition looked for inspirational visions for future development and new homes within the Growth Arc around Cambridge, Milton Keynes, Northampton and Oxford.

Led by Velocity – an all-female team of designers, planners and engineers from Tibbalds Planning and Urban Design – the team’s vision sees six new communities created along the planned East-West rail line, along with environmentally friendly new homes connected to shared amenities.

The team initially met each other through a women’s cycling event, and went on to work together through a shared interest in designing places that “put the pedestrian and cyclist first”.

Announcing the award last week, Bridget Rosewell, competition jury Chair, said she was struck by Velocity ‘commitment to ensuring new settlements would be communities from the get-go’, with large common land at the heart of each development providing a focus for residents to co-operate.

A striking vision for the Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford Arc

The competition ties in with the NIC’s ‘Partnering for prosperity: a new deal for the Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford Arc’ report last month, which set out how Government investment would double housebuilding rates and deliver one million new homes and jobs by 2050. At the crux of the report is the proposal for the Government to fund a £1bn commuter service between Bicester and Bedford by 2023, and a new East West Rail line between Bedford and Cambridge by 2030.

The Chancellor subsequently backed the Commission’s vision for one million new homes by 2050, and announced plans to complete both a new East-West Rail link and an Oxford-Cambridge Expressway by 2030.

The Commission launched the competition in June, and received more than 50 first-stage submissions from teams across the country. Entries from Barton Willmore, Mae, and Fletcher Priest Architects were also shortlisted by the panel, and received an honorarium of £10,000. The next steps now are for VeloCity’s vision to be showcased, along with all earlier submissions, at a conference and public exhibition on the Growth Arc in early 2018. The National Infrastructure Commission are expected to release further details in the coming weeks.

With Government having committed to helping deliver significant growth in the Growth Arc area, developers and local authorities will now need to work together to demonstrate their ambitious visions to sustainably deliver a million new homes for the area.