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Housing and the Land Commission

Dual property market

It soon became evident that the act created an unsustainable dual property market with a need to compensate compulsorily purchased land at full market price. This presented a significant expense for local authorities engaged in slum clearance, but the government was unwilling to reinstate the development or 'betterment' charge. Cabinet eventually agreed to the payment of compensation at market value, which was included in the 1959 Town and Country Planning Act.

The consequence of the abolition of the development charge was the property boom of the early 1960s, making it difficult for local authorities to acquire land. By now, housing was a serious political issue. The Minister, Sir Keith Joseph, argued for the large-scale acquisition of land in areas where housing was scarce, but this was unacceptable to other Cabinet members. Joseph also argued for a 'betterment' or development tax to assist with funding, but Cabinet decided against this.

The Land Commission

The problems caused by land speculation in the 1950s and early 1960s led to the establishment by the Labour government of a Land Commission. This commission underwent a series of revisions to its role during its development, culminating with a White Paper in September 1965.  By the time of this document, proposals for the land commission had been severely toned down. Instead of an adversarial posture that would attack land and house prices and developers profits, the commission became advisory in nature and aimed to ease land supply problems and assist in overcoming planning delays.

Harold Wilson's Labour government passed a further Town and Country Planning Act in 1968. This aimed for greater flexibility and speed in the planning of land use, and introduced public participation.