Fossetts for the People
Campaigners want to ensure former NHS land is used for publicly owned social housing.
Fossetts for the People (FFTP) is a campaign set up by community activists, with the support of the New Economics Foundation, to champion the building of publicly owned social housing in Southend.
A site at Fossetts Farm in Southend was formerly owned by the NHS, who planned to build a new medical centre. When these plans were abandoned, the site was sold in August 2018 to Homes England. The developer paid only £7.8 million for the site, but FFTP claims that with planning permission for residential homes the true value of the land could exceed £40 million.
Southend is suffering from a lack of good quality, affordable social housing. FFTP was set up to demand that the council use the land for social housing, which would provide much needed homes for Southend residents, and would bring revenue to the cash-strapped council. The group say that 400 new homes could be built on the 14-acre site through a publicly owned Local Housing Company.
The campaign says: “Over the last decade, house prices in the borough have shot up by around 50%, meaning many local people and families have been priced out of the housing market. With a dire shortage of good quality, affordable private rental properties in the town and a very long waiting list for council properties, Southend Borough Council could utilise this land to build in the region of 400 new homes.”
New rules needed
Policies that can help unleash the potential of this or similar initiatives across the UK.
Create a Common Ground Trust
Buying land from underneath houses and leasing it to members will expand the number of people ready to buy a house.
Create a Public Land Bank
End the fire sale public land and instead use surplus land to form the basis for a Public Land Bank.
Create a Land Development Corporation
A corporation with the power to purchase, develop and sell land can ensure it is managed in the public interest.
Introduce an NHS land community-lock
Any land asset sold by the NHS through choice, necessity or obligation should be used for community benefit.
Reform compulsory purchase laws
Changes would mean that public authorities, rather than landowners, would capture the uplift in land value.
Increase the supply of social housing
Expanding social housing is the only way government can meet its 300,000 target for new homes each year.
Start an English Land Commission
Commission will design a strategy for a fairer, more inclusive system of land and land ownership.
Close the viability loophole
Stop private developers from evading affordable housing requirements.
Austerity has pummelled living standards and public services. Now is the time to end it.
Expand democratic public ownership
New models of public ownership ensure control by users, workers and communities.