A fascinating new report just published by Co-operatives UK describes the huge potential of community land trusts and other forms of mutual housing and enterprise. Commons Sense: Co-operative place making and the capturing of land value for 21st century Garden Cities brings together a wealth of insight into the practical solutions that community land trusts (CLTs) can provide.
By converting land into commonwealth – capturing escalating land values for everyone’s benefit – it is possible to make housing more affordable and to finance all sorts of infrastructure and services that make communities more stable, attractive and thriving. What’s not to like? (Well, if you’re a bank, private landowner or speculator, you may not like the competition of a superior financial model.)
The Commons Sense report, edited by Pat Conaty of Cooperatives UK and Martin Large of Stroud Common Wealth, succinctly describes the basic problem:
The high cost of housing is draining money out of the productive economy, mainly through land and house price inflation, with damaging effects for national and individual household budgets. Many new homes are unaffordable to ordinary working people, some offer poor value for money in terms of quality or construction, design and energy performance, and cost pressures frequently drive out good design in the spaces between buildings and in the concept of supporting new neighbourhoods. Many new developments are socially, environmentally and economically obsolete from the moment they are conceived, let alone designed or built.
Conaty and Large note that in Britain, only 0.6% of the population – 36,000 people – own about half of the land. This is a significant structural reason for soaring housing prices and continuing wealth inequality.