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Rural land grab 'won't solve housing crisis'

The compulsory purchase of farmland at agricultural prices for building will not solve the rural housing crisis, say landowners.

MPs on the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee are looking at the effectiveness of land value capture and powers to buy land at agricultural prices for housing.

The Country Land and Business Association submitted written evidence and gave oral evidence to the committee of MPs on Monday (4 June).

The CLA said it was primarily the impact of restrictive planning and tax systems on the economics of development which are holding back investment in the countryside.

CLA policy director Christopher Price said: “Compulsory purchase of land should only ever be a last resort and any changes must acknowledge the economic realities of development in the countryside.”

The CLA argues that current methods of capturing the increase in land values – through section 106 agreements and the CIL go a long way in funding investment in housing infrastructure.

It acknowledges that both have their flaws but says it does not support any changes that would make the process even more complex and adversarial.

Mr Price said the best way to solve the acute shortage of rural housing was to remove the barriers that stand in the way of private landowners who want to help provide small-scale schemes.

“These include the uncertainties of navigating the cumbersome, chaotic and under-resourced planning system and a tax system that too often disincentivises positive investment.

“We are open to a more fundamental look at new ways of both providing more housing and capturing land values, but it must start by working with landowners, not seeking to forcibly remove their assets at artificially low prices.”

The evidence session can be viewed online here.

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