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RICS backs RTPI over case for independent Housing Land Corporation

Words: Roger Milne

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has come down firmly in favour of the creation of an independent Housing Land Corporation (HLC) to increase land supply and facilitate house building in Scotland.

The RICS stance supports the RTPI’s position.

The institution has argued that a corporation would facilitate robust development plan proposals to achieve “effective” development sites. It would also act in partnership with local authorities to invest stimulate, promote and champion the right type of housing in the right place.

In addition it would promote more innovative and affordable housing such as self-build and co-ownership. The RICS has stressed the importance of the corporation being apolitical and independent.

“By being arm’s-length from government, the independent HLC’s programme of work would be apolitical and provide consistency as government administrations change, enabling it to make a significant contribution to the Scottish Government target of 500,000 houses delivered by 2035.”

In a paper just published (PDF) the RICS points out that that a small number of major house builders often own - or have options on - the bulk of development sites.

"The pace of development is then determined by the developers, and is therefore beyond local authority control," says the paper.

The institution argues that the HLC could overcome many of these problems “by using compulsory powers to acquire land for major development schemes, investing in infrastructure if necessary, masterplanning the site, and recovering the costs when land is serviced and sold off to developers”.