Land, property and reform

Authored by: Peter Hetherington

The Routledge Companion to Rural Planning

Print publication date:  January  2019
Online publication date:  January  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138104051
eBook ISBN: 9781315102375
Adobe ISBN:


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Land, our most basic resource, underpins the rural economy, providing food, water, timber, energy, minerals, space for housing and recreation. Yet it is ‘undervalued’ in the truest, philosophical sense beyond the often obscene monetary gain from tax ‘efficiency’ schemes, where it was recently considered more valuable than gold and prime London property. Yet British land is facing growing pressures, compounded by the threat of rising sea levels and increasingly unpredictable weather patterns threatening its most productive farming areas – at a time when EU withdrawal is raising questions about how (and if) an equivalent of EU agricultural subsidies can be implemented, still less afforded. This chapter provides an overview of the overall British land question, from the Enclosures, to radical action in the early twentieth century and the (still) concentrated ownership – leading to reform in Scotland, and possibly growing pressure in England. With no accurate record of who owns what, and no restrictions on ownership (unlike much of Europe) it asks whether a new or expanded national ministry is needed to address land use and abuse – and, crucially, plan for the future.

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