Briefing: The case for greater land market transparency

By: Catharine Banks  Published: November 2016


The lack of transparency in the land market is a serious barrier to building more homes in England. Shelter is calling on the Government to open up all land data held by the public sector, to let innovation flourish, allow the market to work more efficiently, and get more homes built.

Summary

This briefing looks at the issue of land market data transparency in England.

The land market is absolutely central to the economy – and of course to the housing system – but currently, there is almost no publicly available, comparable and usable data on land ownership, prices, uses and values. This is a huge weakness in our system, one that hinders house building and allows insiders to profit from market inefficiencies.

Plenty of land market data exists, but it is held in several different formats by various different agencies. Some of it is free to access, some can be paid for with varying restrictions on its use, while much remains inaccessible to the public.This data could be released in comparable, usable formats immediately, at almost no cost to the public and with potentially huge benefits.

Shelter is calling on the Government  to bring together and open up all land data held by the public sector. This will require coordination and cooperation between several different agencies, necessitating Government oversight in the short term.  But if the UK builds on its world-leading land data assets and takes a strategic approach to collating and coordinating data release, it could spark a boom in innovation and products for export – and be a massive step forward towards building the homes the country so desperately needs.

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