Campaigner of the Year

Andy Soar – Nope to hope: Scrap hope value to build social housing

It’s the ‘hope’ that kills social housing…

The Campaign

The high cost of land is one of the biggest barriers to building social rent homes. One of the reasons land is so expensive for councils is because of a bizarre old rule called ‘hope value’. Andy has been at the centre of the campaign to scrap it.  

Councils can make landowners sell their land to build much-needed homes – but they are forced by law to pay hope value on top of the market value. The hope value is calculated by the amount the land could be worth if it was sold to build luxury private homes.

Because hope value magnifies prices so much , many landowners will refuse the council’s initial offer because they know it has no power to buy the land at the current market value.

Great to have campaigns about techy changes to planning being recognised!”

Andy Soar

Great to have campaigns about techy changes to planning being recognised!”

Andy Soar

The Change

In short, getting rid of hope value means landowners will be more likely to accept a fairer price for land and, if they don’t, councils can purchase the land much more cheaply than is currently the case – allowing for more social homes to be built.

Andy and Shelter used the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill (now Act), to get an amendment to the 1961 Land Compensation Act that would allow government to remove hope value in order to build affordable homes.

This might sound techy and fairly minor, but it is a hugely controversial change. It gives councils and government powers to compulsorily purchase land at much cheaper prices to build homes and assets for the community, rather than for profit. It will make taxpayers money go further, make brownfield land more viable, and give councils a boost to help them deliver more social rent homes.

The Future

This is a significant planning reform which should tilt the scales slightly more towards the building of the homes we need to end homelessness. Tens of thousands of social rent homes have been lost over the last decades, which have not been replaced. Homelessness statistics are getting worse and worse. Shelter says the only way to reverse this is by building more of the most affordable type of homes – social rent homes.

Their next challenge is to get councils to use this new power.

Who else was involved?

Brilliant cross-sector support from the Local Government Association, Chartered Institute for Housing, National Housing Federation, and many others across the Better Planning Coalition.

Amazing team effort, especially from our comms team: making dry policy planning reform fun, policy team for battling with big developers and planning lawyers and our public affairs teams for chasing Lords down to put down amendments.