Scottish Labour wants new land-purchase rights for housing co-ops

'There is a housing emergency in Scotland, and the price of land lies at the centre of it,' says Richard Leonard MSP

A new law could give councils, housing associations and co-operatives in Scotland the right to buy land from developers at existing use price.

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard announced his support for the proposal at Labour’s UK conference in Brighton last month. This sees his party join the Scottish Greens in backing the measure.

Mr Leonard said Scottish Labour’s forthcoming Housing Commission report will recommend that existing laws be reformed “to allow public interest-led bodies and local authorities to acquire land at, or very close to, existing use value.”

He added: “There is a housing emergency in Scotland, and the price of land lies at the centre of it. So when we launch our Housing Commission report in the next few weeks it will make radical recommendations which tackle the excess profits of property developers, including a proposal to introduce a new law giving local councils, housing associations and housing co-operatives right to acquire land at an existing use-value.”

Mr Leonard said that his party’s forthcoming Housing Commission report will include a recommendation to “reform the existing law to allow public interest-led bodies and local authorities to acquire land at, or very close to, existing use value”.

The move follows an unsuccessful amendment introduced to the Scottish Parliament last year by Green housing spokesperson Andy Wightman MSP, which would have prevented the price of land in ‘masterplan consent areas’ being inflated by the prospect of development.

Sally Thomas, CEO of the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, said: “The right to acquire land at existing use value is something we have lobbied for, for a number of years, on behalf of our members. We know the price of land is a barrier to building the affordable housing which is desperately needed.

“We need a system that will allow distribution of revenues on the basis of need, rather than market circumstance, and which reinforces the ambition for, and achievement of, socially inclusive place-making. Of the many factors that contribute to this, land is one of the most critical.”

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