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England’s ‘first’ land commission launched in Liverpool

Words: Laura Edgar
Liverpool City Region / iStock-467030583

Mayor of Liverpool City Region Steve Rotheram has established England’s ‘first’ Land Commission to improve the management and use of land in the region.

The commission will review the use of public land for community wealth building.

Rotheram explains 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”. As a result, the cost of housing has risen and there are now shortages of homes. Overall productivity has been reduced.

“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. 

The Land Commission comprises: 

  • Claire Dove OBE, DL, voluntary, community and social enterprise at Crown Representative 
  • Hugh Ellis, director of policy at the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA)
  • Indy Johar, executive director at Dark Matter Laboratories 
  • Britt Jurgensen, co-creator at Homebaked Community Land Trust 
  • Liam Kelly, chief executive officer at Make Liverpool CIC 
  • Professor Alex Lord, lever chair of town and regional planning at the University of Liverpool 
  • Kathie Pollard, policy officer at Scottish Land Commission 
  • Erika Rushton, director at The Beautiful Ideas Company 
  • Guy Shrubsole, campaigner and author of Who Owns England? 
  • Amahra Spence, director at MAIA Creatives 
  • Kate Swade, director at Shared Assets 
  • Dr Matthew Thompson, Leverhulme research fellow at the Heseltine Institute, University of Liverpool 

“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 Liverpool City Region Combined Authority will coordinate the commission alongside think tank Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES).

Members of the commission will meet four times between now and November to discuss the challenges surrounding publicly owned land. The first meeting is taking place today.

The commission has been tasked with ensuring that recommendations are action-oriented, and they should generate ideas for concrete projects, rather than only general recommendations.

CLES is responsible for drafting the final report of the commission based on the output of the meetings.

Neil McInroy, director of CLES, said: “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.”

Image credit | iStock