Land Journal July–August 2018

Mike Swain

Editor, Land Journal (RICS)

Both the RICS planning and rural conferences had lively and stimulating agendas this year, covering topics relevant to this issue of Land Journal.


The former debated whether the planning system is essentially broken and in need of drastic reform, or whether the government’s ambition for a plan-led system will deliver the homes that people want and need in every part of the country.

With this in mind, can lessons be learned from Levittown, Pennsylvania – an iconic US suburb comprising affordable homes, which was built very quickly in the 1950s and remains popular today? Tony Mulhall recently visited Levittown, and in this issue of Land Journal he delves into the reasons why it was so successful in building the homes people liked both cheaply and fast. Why are we failing to do the same today, he asks?

Nicholas Falk also spoke at the conference on URBED’s report for the GLA about land assembly, and the different ways that cities around the world use land for housing. He gives a detailed summary of the report for the journal, and explains its recommendations.

There is also research from student Louise Cashmore along with Katharine Foot, which examines the barriers encountered by town and parish councils in Northamptonshire that discourage them from taking up neighbourhood plans. Their article offers an interesting snapshot of how the plans are working at ground level.

The rural conference in Cirencester, meanwhile, featured aspects of likely change in rural areas, especially after Brexit. I believe there are now more start-ups in rural areas than in urban, and the conference was told that diversification is likely to be key to maintaining thriving rural communities. The article in this issue by Fiona Mannix on RICS research into money in rural areas is therefore timely, comparing the different impacts of investments such as Donald Trump’s golf resort in Scotland and Moominworld in Finland on the respective local communities.

Finally, I know the journal is popular with younger readers, and I would draw their attention to Mark Simcock’s article on apprenticeships, which explains the advantages for both students and employers of this route into the profession.

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