New findings reveal a path for land use

Initial lessons from the county pilots

5th April 2023

Two critical, on-the-ground projects testing better ways to make decisions about land have released their initial findings today, to support government's development of a Land Use Framework for England.

The Land Use Framework pilots, led by FFCC and the Geospatial Commission in Devon and Cambridgeshire, have tested how the Land Use Framework can work in the context of real challenges faced by communities and leaders in the two counties. The work brought together partners in the Environment Agency, British Geological Survey and local authorities, and was supported by experts and leaders from across England.

The findings support growing calls for better decisions about land that can meet the multiple and competing demands on it for energy, tree planting, nature restoration, housing and more. Published today in a briefing for policymakers, they conclude that:

  • A Land Use Framework can help provide a road map - convening leaders to define, debate and agree strategic goals for land. It must join up the planning framework with other land use decision-making, to be truly useful.
  • Better use of data is vital – utilising existing (good-enough) data and bringing it together effectively leads to better decisions.
  • A Land Use Framework should be neither top-down nor bottom-up but based on shared principles and improved capacity for action – nationally, regionally and locally.
  • Effective public engagement improves the legitimacy and implementation of difficult decisions. Many communities want to lead changes, if they are properly involved from the start.
  • Landowners’ ability to take a long-term view beyond political cycles is helpful. Clear national and local policies and incentives (weighted appropriately) will help them to be confident in long-term planning for the changes needed.

The pilot projects are ongoing and will report fully after they complete in summer 2023.