Land News

The spread of UK land ownership

Mind the Gap by Ferdinand Mount, September 16th 2004

The spread of land ownership is a great good cause, much neglected in England. It is time to revive it.

Developers in several counties - Hertfordshire, Kent, Sussex, Hampshire, Buckinghamshire, Suffolk - have bought unused farmland and have divided the fields up into plots ranging from half an acre to five acres, selling them on to individuals for as much as £35,000 an acre.

Most of the land is in the green belt and the plots carry no planning permission. Yet, city dwellers have been snapping them up. Why? Obviously the purchasers are placing a long-term bet on some change in the planning laws which might enable them one day to build a house with a garden.

Such speculators are now regarded as villains by respectable opinion. Yet, I have sympathy for them and hope that one day they will come to be regarded as admirable poineers. Not simply does small-plot landscape offer opportunities for self-expression to people who are not well off. It can offer enrichment to the land too.

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