Debate Magazine

Cutting the Legs off the Housing Ladder

Posted on the 21 November 2016 by Markwadsworth @Mark_Wadsworth

"How to keep house prices low for generations to come" is the headline on the BBC website introducing an article about Community Land Trusts.
Imagine a world in which the price of housing stopped rising as predictably as a hydrogen-filled balloon.
And imagine a country in which houses would be just as affordable in 10 years' time as they were 10 years ago. There would be no race to buy a home, no fear that prices would accelerate faster than you can save up for the deposit.
Houses would cease to be a means of profit, and instead become just a place to live.

Well, amen to that, but it appears that community land trusts are few and far between:
There are 175 CLTs in England and Wales, which so far have delivered 560 homes.
… despite having government support:
The government is expected to announce a programme of support for similar coastal and rural CLTs in the Autumn Statement. It will be funded out of the extra stamp duty chargeable on second homes.
Hang on, "funded"? What do they need funds for? All the CLT needs to be able to do is to get planning permission on land that otherwise wouldn't get permission, then sell the homes at undervalue with a legal restriction that they have to be sold on at undervalue. Perhaps the government is thinking that it wouldn't do to have landowners selling building land at anything other than full market value, even if it is to a CLT.
So it looks like there are a few people who don't care about "getting on the housing ladder" and just want somewhere of their own they can call home, but the cynic in me is wondering how long it will be before the first CLT is taken to court by an owner wanting to sell at full market value, or even the government introducing some sort of "Right to Sell" legislation to allow them to do so.

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