Labour peer Glasman advocates community land ownership

26 Sep 17

More land should be transferred from state and private control into the hands of local people, according to a former Labour adviser.

Speaking at a fringe meeting at the party’s national conference, Maurice Glasman, once a key advisor to Ed Miliband, explained that he had seen deprived areas of the United States transformed thanks to land reform.

Glasman highlighted the potential of Community Land Trusts (CLTs), which involve communities pooling their finances to buy tracts of public and private land on which to build their own homes. This can help restore “a sense of place, a sense of belonging, a sense of attachment, of the relationships that are necessary to communities”, Glasman said.

Under the US model of CLTs, land belongs to the whole community, with 1,000-year lease on each home. There are currently 225 CLTs in the UK, according to data from the CLT Network.

Glasman cited what he called “the remorseless selling-off of public land for private development” as evidence for why the UK would benefit from more CLTs, as well as the inequities exposed after the Grenfell fire.

“I have met with the Grenfell residents and am working with them and the people around there”, he told the event. “The overwhelming message they have is powerlessness. They feel absolutely ignored”.

Glasman was optimistic that there was “a political negotiation to be had with large estates about the transfer of land for housing, the transfer of the asset to people who want to buy that land”.

His comments came as part of a discussion about Housing First, a programme to tackle homelessness being promoted by the Centre for Social Justice think-tank.

The Housing First scheme, under which homeless people with multiple complex needs have immediate access to permanent accommodation, has the potential to turn around the lives of one in five homeless people, the event heard.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has estimated that the programme could save £200m in public spending each year.

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