Why we need a Land Use Framework

an excerpt from Our Future in the Land

10th November 2022

Published in 2019, Our Future in the Land sets out radical and practical ways for policymakers, business and communities to respond to the challenges of environment, food and health – and proposes a Land Use Framework for England, to help make better decisions about land. The extract below explains why England needs a Land Use Framework.

"Land is too often seen as doing one thing or another. Debate has tended to follow these polarised lines, with farmers defending their livelihoods against those who want to rewild land currently in agricultural production, and local communities defending green fields against housing developers. In England, there is no framework to enable land to deliver multiple benefits

Low input farming can improve profit margins, productivity and provide environmental benefits at the same time. Forestry and agroforestry can support sustainable food and timber production, nature restoration and carbon sequestration, but in a siloed system we have failed to capitalise on these benefits. Affordable housing and infrastructure can, with democratic involvement and wise planning, win local support and deliver environmental gains at the same time.

At present, however, governance of land use is fragmented, and we have failed to capitalise on these synergies. An academic debate pitting ‘land sparing’ against ‘land sharing’ has focussed on comparing theoretical scenarios, rather than fuelling imaginative and innovative approaches to governing land use to maximise public value.

A framework for land use in England would manage competing pressures on land and encourage multifunctionality. It would develop a common vision for land between often estranged interests – farmers and environmentalists, local residents and developers – and, where disputes do arise, provide a framework for mediation. It would also support different government departments to work together to get the best out of our unique landscape, meeting present needs and preserving it in good shape for generations to come.

In doing so it would support government to deliver initiatives such as affordable homes as outlined in Fixing Our Broken Housing Market; delivering key infrastructure as outlined in the National Infrastructure Assessment; and environmental protection and improvement as outlined in the Environment Plan and elsewhere.

A framework for land use in England would learn from the experience of land use strategies in Scotland and Wales, as well as the work of the Land Matters Task Force in Northern Ireland." Our Future in Land, p55

Since the publication of Our Future in the Land, FFCC has brought together organisations and leaders to advocate for a Land Use Framework. In early 2022, FFCC Commissioner, Baroness Young played a critical role in establishing a House of Lord inquiry into Land Use. And since the Lords Committee was set up, the Government Food Strategy, published in spring 2022, committed to publishing a Land Use Framework. The Commission’s work is now focused on ensuring that the focus of the framework is as broad as possible and the opportunity to use land to deliver multiple benefits is realised.