London Land Commission opens for business with call for ‘Domesday Book’ of public land

A so-called ‘Domesday Book’ cataloguing brownfield public land in London is to be compiled in an effort to free up sites that can be used to build homes.

The decision to create the database was announced at the official launch of the new London Housing Commission, today, which represents the first-ever coordinated effort between City Hall, Government, and the capital’s boroughs to deliver surplus land for building homes.

Once collected, City Hall will use the data to map the spread of sites across the city. It is thought to be the first time such a comprehensive set of data has ever been collected for London.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson, and housing minister Brandon Lewis headed up the commission launch, where it was revealed that real estate research firm Savills has been tasked with compiling the preliminary stages of the ‘Domesday Book’ of public land.

“The London Land Commission will build on the great efforts we’ve already made at City Hall to ensure brownfield land that has lain empty for years is put to productive use in providing much-needed housing for Londoners,” said Johnson.

“In a city like ours, with its burgeoning population, it is simply madness not to act as quickly as we can to unlock more of these kinds of sites. The Commission’s work will be vital in co-ordinating the efforts of a whole raft of public bodies to achieve this important goal, helping to cut through the red tape that has kept valuable land tied up for too long.”

Lewis said: "As a global city, with excellent opportunities and links to the rest of the world, there is clear demand to release land and provide more homes for Londoners. The London Land Commission will bring a joined up approach to land release in the capital – regenerating brownfield land and providing more homes, whilst continuing to protect the green belt around our Capital."

The Commission was announced by the Mayor and Chancellor George Osborne in February this year as part of the long-term economic plan for London. It will work across layers of government and public bodies to develop strategies for unlocking public land for development. The Commission will identify priority areas for future growth and co-ordinate efforts to fast-track the process, whilst ensuring a “good return for the taxpayer and better regeneration sites” across London.

The inaugural meeting was attended by London Councils, NHS England, Transport for London and Network Rail with participation at the highest levels from other bodies such as the Department of Health.

London Councils’ executive member for housing and Mayor of Lewisham Sir Steve Bullock said: “It is vital is that our overall strategy to tackle the housing crisis delivers an increase in affordable homes for ordinary Londoners. The efficient use of vacant land, whether owned by the Mayor, Transport for London, boroughs, the NHS or private sector developers, is a key part of the solution.”

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