New Consultation: the “Right to Regenerate” vacant land and derelict buildings.

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On 16 January 2021, the Government triggered a consultation on a new “Right to Regenerate”. The right empowers members of the public to request that councils and other public sector bodies sell unused (or underutilised) land and assets. The Government’s intention is to “drive regeneration and stimulate the more productive use of public land”.

The Government proposes that members of the public be allowed to convert vacant land and derelict buildings into new homes and other community facilities. Public bodies will need to identify (and have plans for) intended future use of vacant/underutilised land if they are to avoid a requirement to sell.

The member of public making such a request could have a “right of first refusal” with respect to purchasing the public land – allowing communities to group together and purchase land with a specific (and local) beneficial purpose in mind. Equally, where a private individual owns a house that sits adjacent to a council-owned vacant plot of land, that individual could exercise the regeneration right to enlarge their own land.

The Government’s consultation is primarily looking at:

  1. the usefulness of the regeneration right;
  2. whether the Government should publish guidance as to the meaning of “unused or underused” land;
  3. the appropriateness of attaching conditions to any disposal of public land (eg. that land can only be sold for redevelopment);
  4. the extent to which the public ought to engage with local authorities before requesting that land be sold;
  5. whether there should be a presumption in favour of selling land; and
  6. whether local authorities ought to be required to publish all requests (together with outcomes and reasons) on their websites.

The deadline for submissions is 13 March 2021.

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