Privatising Land in England

Journal of Property, Planning and Built Environment Law, Forthcoming

20 Pages Posted: 10 Jun 2019

Date Written: April 29, 2019


Of all the recent privatisations in England, the most valuable, and yet least recorded, is of land. According to one estimate, two million hectares, or ten percent of the Britain landmass, left the public sector for private ownership between 1979 and 2018. Privatisations include land that is sold, leased or where a public body changes its status. This paper explores these privatisations, considering them as denationalisations, concluding that the effects are most significant in housing where the differences between social and private renting in relation to rents, security of tenure and housing quality are striking. Moreover, although other public law restraints on state-owned property are often limited, they are also still significant, facilitating scrutiny, particularly in combination with the public sector equality duty or site-specific duties for libraries, allotments or playing fields. All the sites disposed of to private developers, landlords and companies have lost these protections.

Keywords: land, privatization, denationalization

JEL Classification: K, Q, R

Suggested Citation

Layard, Antonia, Privatising Land in England (April 29, 2019). Journal of Property, Planning and Built Environment Law, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: or

Antonia Layard (Contact Author)

Bristol Law School ( email )

Bristol Law School
Wills Memorial Building
Bristol, BS8 1RJ
United Kingdom

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