Land reform to affect all

Giant estate agent says community right to buy could change rules in towns as well as rural areas

LAND reform plans of the Scottish Government might be reported as predominantly concerned with rural areas but they will have far reaching effects on town centres also, claims international estate agent firm Savills.
The company’s head of rural in Scotland Jonathan Henson described the Land Reform Bill, published in the Scottish Parliament in late June, as “a punctuation point in land ownership history, with the proposed bill being a starting point for further reforms”.
It establishes a Land Commission with a remit to deliver land reforms, he noted.
“However it is clear that its ultimate goal is the redistribution of land and property across Scotland, with the aim of achieving a ‘fairer society’.
“The provisions within the bill that seek to establish an absolute right to buy for sustainable development for community bodies are a material change to property-owning rights that have existed in the UK for many generations,” he said.
“Whilst news headlines focused on the impact on rural land, the reality is that these provisions apply to all types of Scottish land and property, both urban and rural, applying equally to brownfield land in inner cities and remote heather hillsides.
“The Scottish land and property sector has a fundamental role to play in the future health of the economy. In the majority of cases landowners ensure their land and property works hard for the benefit of their communities, however even the most responsible will be rightly concerned.
“The wording of the bill has been vague on definition in some areas; for example what constitutes ‘sustainable development’ is unclear.”