Many key actions are needed from the next government to create an enabling framework for the development of co-operative and mutual housing.
Experiences from countries such as Sweden and Norway where there are large and well established co-operative housing sectors, clearly show that the right enabling framework is necessary for their development.
The key actions needed are described in the draft of the Co-operative Party’s policy paper that has been drafted by Linda Gilroy, Co-op Party NEC member and former Labour/Co-op MP for Plymouth, with detailed technical comment and support from me.
The key actions needed include:
• Building capacity and knowledge among civil servants and local government officers.
• Legislating to create co-operative housing tenure as a distinct form of tenure in UK property and housing law.
• Enabling the creation of a financial intermediary to raise and manage institutional investment in developing co-operative and mutual housing and operate an insurance fund to reduce investment risk.
• Underwriting the insurance fund (as a contingent liability) in order to give added comfort to investors.
• Legislating to exclude homes built on land owned by a community land trust from leasehold enfranchisement risk to ensure that homes on community owned land remain affordable in perpetuity.
• Assisting to make land available for communities wanting to develop co-operative homes.
• Creating a new national presumption in favour of change of land use being granted where land value uplift is to be captured for the benefit of the community
• Amending treasury green book valuation guidance in line with recommendations from RICS Land and Society Commission Report to ensure that ‘best value’ considerations in disposing of all publicly owned land take account of long term social and financial benefits.
• Removing the borrowing cap and allowing councils to borrow (prudentially) for housing development including support for co-operative models.
• And introducing a Land Value Tax (possibly targeted) and/or a time limited ‘must develop by (date)’ condition attached to planning consent. A community land trust ‘right to buy at the pre planning consent price price’ could be developed to accompany this, discouraging speculative land banking by developers and institutions.
David Rodgers is President of International Co-operative Alliance Housing and Member of the Labour Executive for Housing. He has helped to draft two housing policy papers, one for the Labour Housing Group and another for the Co-operative Party. The Co-op Party’s policy paper will be discussed at the Party’s national conference in Edinburgh in October.
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