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Ahead of consideration of the bill at stage 2, I conducted a consultation on the proposal to enable local authorities to acquire land at its existing use value—a power that they had from 1947 until 1959 and which would strip out a substantial part of the profit that accrues to landowners and developers from the uplift in land values.
The developer Murray Estates, which is developing a large area in the west of Edinburgh, is a good example. Having secured planning consent, the company informed me in a meeting that it would simply sell the land, pocketing a very tidy profit though the granting of a public good—a planning consent.
I know that the Government is interested in the concept, but it has had 18 months to bring forward proposals. Instead, it has kicked the idea into the long grass and missed what might be the only legislative opportunity for some time to introduce such a power.
The power as envisaged—I had an amendment on it at stage 2, which I did not press because Graham Simpson’s amendment had got into the bill—would apply only in masterplan consent areas. It was a very limited power. We intentionally restricted it to enable it to be experimental, to an extent, and to avoid any of the bigger problems that might arise if we applied it across the piece. We focused the power on restricted areas and sought to allow councils to explore the more plan-led and public-led development model that has provided so much success in countries such as Germany.
We oppose the removal from the bill of proposed new section 54CA of the 1997 act and we will vote against amendment 112. We will support amendments 212 and 215.