Published on 7 Mar 2011 Sections ,

Could councils sell land to fill budget holes?

Local councils are facing tough budget cuts. But could they sell off some of their 11,000 acres of land to cope? Channel 4’s Dispatches investigates how much land your local council owns.

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Land Your Local Council Could Flog!

This map shows brownfield land that local councils in England owned in 2008 and could be sold for development.

ScraperWiki made this map using information gathered by the Homes & Communities Agency from local councils. The full dataset is called the National Land Use Database.

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To get started, enter
a place or postcode:

Or click here to manually
browse the map

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Loading…
(Did you find the way we presented this information useful? How could it be improved? Do you have anything to tell us about your local brownfields sites? Tell ScraperWiki here.)

Proposed uses:
Employment Housing Open space Retail Mixed None Other

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What land could your council sell?  

The map above shows brownfield land that local councils in England owned in 2008 and could be sold for development.

ScraperWiki made this map using information gathered by the Homes & Communities Agency from local councils. The full dataset is called the National Land Use Database.

Local authorities across the UK own 11,331 acres in total. To put that in context, that amount of land has the capacity for more than 87,000 houses, which could be worth more than £13.4bn.

In light of the tough spending settlements councils are facing – with an average cut in their budgets of 8.9 per cent – could it be the time to sell off some of this land and reap the rewards?

The assets can only be sold once so councils need to make sure they get the best possible price. Local Government Association’s Richard Kemp

Channel 4 Dispatches has taken a look at the land owned by councils and tonight Krishnan Guru-Murthy will host a debate on whether they should sell some of their assets to cope with spending cuts.

Councils own 11,000 acres - should they sell? (Reuters)

Dispatches has also looked into the assets owned by central Government – from Buckingham Palace to Stonehenge – and whether these could be sold to pay down the national debt.

But it’s not as easy as all that, some critics say.

Local Government Association Vice Chairman, Richard Kemp, told Channel 4 News: “Town halls need to treat their assets as investments. They can only be sold once so councils need to make sure they get the best possible price.

“The cash from the sale of a building or land can be put to good use but there may be better value for residents in holding onto the property. In a lot of ways councils should look at this issue through the eyes of the private sector. Is maintaining a property costing more than the potential returns? Can a brownfield site be developed and sold down the line for a greater profit? It’s about weighing the costs against potential returns.”

Should local councils sell their land? Tell us what you think on Twitter @channel4news or on Facebook