Urge Local Landowners to Put Their Land to Good Use

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.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

[insert name]

Let Your Council Know: Land Matters

If you and a group of people around you have noticed disused land in your area and you think your council should be acting to do something about here’s how to let them know. Below is a template letter to send to your local councillor to let them know that local land should be used to the benefit of local people. Get emailing, reposting, sending letters and tweeting about it now!

 

Dear [insert name of councillor],

 

I am writing to you regarding disused land in the county/borough of [insert name of county or borough].

Our [borough/county] contains significant empty sites of empty land that could be used to build much needed housing, start new community food growing projects, launch new businesses, or create new wildlife corridors. The [insert example of disused land here] is just one example of this. As local residents we are keen to work with the local authority to ensure that this land is brought back into use to the benefit of local residents.

We would like to arrange a meeting with the relevant elected member and the empty properties officer to discuss the council’s strategy for bringing empty properties and derelict land back into use. To be clear, we have no interest in purchasing or profiting from any particular piece of land ourselves – we simply want to see the land in our borough/county used for the benefit of local communities rather than left empty.

Please let us know a convenient time for a meeting.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

 

[Insert names]

 

DIY Land Spotting: How To

This simple step-by-step guide is designed to help you spot disused land in your area and raise it as an issue with your local council and local land owners – the people with the power to bring it back into use. Spotting disused land is easy to do and can be done be anyone. Currently, the UK has large amounts of disused land that could be put to use in all sorts of ways: from building community-led affordable housing, to growing community gardens, to increasing local biodiversity. Whatever your goal, this step-by-step guide will help you identify disused land in your area and bring it back into use, as well as potentially feeding into a crowdsourced map of disused land in the UK.

Getting started

Who can spot land?

  1. Go solo! One person can achieve a lot. Decide on the geographical area that you want to spot empty land in. Decide how long a period you want to spend identifying sites – a week? a month? a year? Whatever time period you choose, the aim is to identify as many sites as you can within that time.
  2. Form a spotting group! This could be with your friends, family, colleagues, community group, or other people interested in land reform in your local area. The more people, the more disused land you will be able to identify. You could even meet up to share what you found out!

How to spot land?

You could spot land while:

  • On your way to work
  • Taking your kids to school
  • On dedicated land spotting walks in your area

 

What to gather information on?

It is important that you gather information on:

  1. The location of the site. This is the most important piece of information. The best way to record the location of the site is to place a pin on Google Maps and save it. This data can then be used to create a map of disused land across the UK.
  2. How long the site has been disused. This might be something that you know yourself or it might be something you can find out by asking local people or through Google.
  3. Who you think might own it. Again, this might be something you know, or it might be something you can find out by asking the neighbours or through the Land Registry.
  1. What it used to be used for. Again, this might be something that you know yourself or it might be something you can find out by asking local people or through Google.

 

How to make it an issue?

Gathering information is important, but to bring disused land back into use it is essential to make it into a pressing issue: for the landowner (who has the power to do something with the land), the local authority (who has the power of compulsory purchase if the landowner refuses to take action), and local citizens (who have the power to put pressure on local landowners and the council). In order to make disused land in your area into an issue, you could start by:

  • Taking a selfie in front of the disused land and tweeting it to #Land4What.
  • Finding out who owns the land using the Land Registry.
  • Telling your local councillors about all the empty land in your area and suggesting ideas for how it could be used (a community land trust housing development, a park, an allotment).
  • Using the template letters to local councils and landowners on the Land for What? website: https://www.landjustice.uk/category/resources/

 

Further resources

For more information on mapping land, check out the following links:

Who Owns England? – a blog attempting map land ownership in England.

Empty Homes – advice on how to bring empty homes back into use from a charity that campaigns on this issue nationally.

Plotfinder – a website for buying and selling land.

Territories of Life – a video toolkit for indigenous communities facing land grabs

Territories of Life is a video toolkit with a purpose. It’s aim is to bring stories of resistance, resilience and hope to indigenous communities on the frontline of the global rush for land.

We really hope that Land For What? will be able to put together something similar for communities in the UK facing land grabs and clearances by developers and corporations. For example communities fighting against fracking and social housing under threat of being cleared.

Produced by LifeMosaic, a non-profit based in Scotland, the Territories of Life toolkit consists of ten stories that were filmed in communities across Indonesia, Philippines, Guatemala, Ecuador, Colombia, Paraguay, Tanzania and Cameroon.

http://www.lifemosaic.net/eng/tol/

Territories of Life Introduction (HD) from LifeMosaic on Vimeo.

Quakers interest in Housing and Inequality

Dear Friends

Quakers have an interest in Housing and Inequality which led us to run a conference on 20th February this year, a little while before the recent Housing Act.

If you’re interested in what went on, you can have a look at the open Facebook Group Quakers and Housing Inequality.

One of the outcomes following our conference was a Housing Toolkit, a resource document for use by Quaker groups and individuals. It might interest some of you, so I’ve uploaded a copy to this site here – Quaker Housing Toolkit Part 1

Fred