On Sunday 11th November 2018 we held our national gathering at Friends of the Earth’s offices in London.
We had a beautiful group network members gathered, including a v. dedicated contingent who made the pilgrimage (by minibus) all the way down from the Reclaim the Power gathering in Sheffield, and it was the first LJN gathering for eight wonderful people – welcome!
Our 30 second intros which kicked off the meeting were a challenge, but we got some major updates– David is a cat person, Maddy likes good books and bad jokes, Tom feels it’s important to wave the flag for the flageolet bean. Good.
But it was four-year old Luca who really hit the nail on the head and got us off to the best start with his call to action. We need to ‘take back the land!’ he said, ‘and there’s a lot to do, so we better get on with it.’
Continue reading Report from our national gathering
The focus in the other workshops is on how land can be used to satisfy human needs such as for housing, food and social space. However, what about all the other species that we share the planet with, as well as the air we breathe and the water we drink? How do we ensure that both the planet and human beings thrive?
This workshop will examine the environmental consequences of the current patterns of land use and then consider alternative ways in which we can distribute and use the land.
Alex, Past Tense
Richard, Grow Heathrow
Lynne Davies, Open Food Network
Christine, Radical Housing Network
- 69% of land in the UK is owned by 0.6% of the population.
- UK housing is concentrated on 5% of the country’s land mass.
- Only 64% of people have a small stake in the 5% of land on which our housing is built.
- Home and land ownership is in decline.
- 1/3 of British land is still owned by aristocrats.
- The value of ‘dwellings’ (homes and the land underneath them) has increased by four times (or 400%) between 1995 and 2015, from £1.2 trillion to £5.5 trillion.
- The property wealth of the top 10% of households is nearly 5 times greater than the wealth of the bottom half of all households combined.
- Landlords own almost 40% of all former council houses with the government’s ‘right-to-buy’ scheme.
- The annual amount of overseas investment in the UK housing market has rise from around £6bn per year a decade ago to £32bn by 2014.
- 74% of house price increases between 1950 and 2012 in the UK can be explained by rising land prices with the remainder attributable to increases in construction costs.
- Land often increases in value due to public investment in infrastructure, such as roads, public transport, housing, etc. It has been estimated that the extension of the Jubilee Line of the London Underground which opened in 1999 increased local residential land values within 1000 yards of each of the stations by £13 billion (Riley, 2001). As a result, such publically funded infrastructure projects almost always involve a substantial transfer of wealth from a large number of taxpayers to a small number of land owners – a classic case of economic rent.
Who really owns Britain?, Country Life, November 2010.
Modern Land Reform, New Economics Foundation, publication forthcoming.
Who Owns Britain, Kevin Cahill, 2001.
As well as councils, private landowners also often sit on disused land that could be used for public good. Using the template below, you can put pressure on a local landowner to push them into putting their land to good use. Share it widely and do not hesitate in sending that email or letter!
Dear [insert name of landowner],
I am writing to you regarding [insert name of empty site] and its ongoing state of disuse.
As a local resident, I am keen that the site is brought back into use to the benefit of the local community. Our area is in need of [delete as appropriate: new housing, more green space, land to start a community food growing project] and the land that you own could be part of the solution. Bringing it back into use would be in your own interest as well as in the interest of the local area. I am not interested in purchasing or using the site myself – I am simply hoping to that it will be put to use in the near future.
I urge you to take the following actions:
- Contact the Empty Property Officer in the local authority to discuss what you can do to bring the land back into use.
- Make your intentions for the future use of the land known to local residents.
- Contact me or [name of active local group] if you would like to discuss how best to move forwards.
I look forward to hearing from you.
This BBC article has some useful facts and figures from recent comprehensive national studies about how much of the country is built on.
A surprisingly low figure which could be used to challenge the idea that we don’t have enough space in this country to house everyone adequately.
If I have read the article right, it states that 80% of us live on 2% of the land and that only 20% of ‘urban’ land is actually built on!