The Sustainable Plotlands Association – a proposal | Brussels Blog

The Sustainable Plotlands Association – a proposal

posted by on 13th Apr 2016

The aim of the association is to promote sustainable lifestyles
which also address Britain’s housing crisis.


1. There are few (if any) examples of lifestyles in Britain which are sustainable. For example at the new “sustainable” development at Derwenthorpe, York, the carbon footprints of the residents are several times that which is necessary to avoid dangerous climate change. The Sustainable Plotlands Association will promote action research into achieving lifestyles that are sustainable.

2. Housing is much more expensive than the cost of building and the land it occupies. At agricultural prices a plot of land big enough for a house and garden costs £500. Once planning permission has been granted this can easily inflate to over £100,000. This increase is because planning permission is limited in supply. Additionally, many plots with planning permission remain in land banks, until they can be developed at a premium, when home buyers end up paying inflated prices. Windfall rewards go to land owners and developers holding land banks.

3. Traditional housebuilding, with bricks, cement and steel has large embodied carbon, enough to overwhelm personal carbon budgets. Traditional housebuilding is also costly, other methods of construction, off site construction or self build, can be very much cheaper and more sustainable.

The proposal

This proposal is for a campaign to update the updated model of plotland development that was (more-or-less) outlawed by the 1947 Planning Act. Planning permission would not be held in land banks but held by individuals who intend to have their home on their own plot. Individuals should be prevented from holding planning permission on multiple plots. Some organisation could hold planning permission for more than one plot, for example social landlords. These would be carefully regulated.

First step

Whilst the pressures to restrict development are great, there is a great demand for cheaper housing, particularly for starter homes. If the cost planning permission is avoided, simple starter homes can be provided (with land and services) for less than £20,000 – about a tenth of most starter homes today..

We propose that a fund be created to buy ‘plotland options’ on suitable sites. These would be legal options to buy land from landowners if planning permission were to be granted for plotland development. This would be for an agreed price or to an agreed price formula.

These might be attractive to some landowners because unless there is a strong political movement demanding cheap housing through plotland development the options cannot be exercised. If there is a successful political campaign (and starter homes become much cheaper) most of the windfall profit will be taken from planning permission.

Contributors to the Sustainable Plotlands Association’s option will be eligible to take up one of the options held by the association. Rules for allocating (and possibly transferring) these need further consideration.



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