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Ideology, housing and land value capture: Uncovering the politics of development land value

This project will examine the relationship between dominant political ideologies and the evolution of land value capture policy in England since the 1940s, to improve understanding of the nature of the politics of this contentious area of policy in the past and set current debates within a more political theoretically informed context.

Land ownership and value

Who should own land and who should own the value associated with land have long been highly political questions. This has become even more evident over the last decade as the crisis in supply of affordable housing has assumed greater importance on the policy agenda.

This is because it is partly from land value increases that new affordable housing and the infrastructure required to support new housing development is funded. The policy areas related to this are called ‘land value capture’ or ‘betterment’ policy.

Housing crisis

The housing crisis has put significant pressure on governments to do something about the problem of housing supply, housing affordability and land values. This is currently prompting policymakers and politicians in England to consider new ideas. Some of these ideas are being supplied by the think tank and campaign industries that have an interest in land policy – and these ideas have been increasingly reported in the non-specialist press.

We are therefore living through a moment where there is significant potential for a rethink of fundamental questions concerning land ownership and the distribution of land values and what these values are used to pay for. This has traditionally been a technical and specialist policy area but thanks to the politics of the various crises that characterise the current moment, land value policy is now part of mainstream political debate. This is changing the politics of land and housing.


The aim of the research is to analyse and understand the politics of contemporary debates concerning land values in England in their historical context. This will aid understanding of the forces that drive and constrain change in national land value capture and betterment policy.

The project will develop a methodology for applying political theories for the analysis of political ideologies to analyses of policy change. It will bring into the open the latent political theoretical concepts which are core to debates about the ownership and distribution of increases in land value.

The project will also provide up-to-date data and insights regarding the national policymaking process in England which will be of use to policy experts who wish to influence debate and the direction of national policy regarding land.

The project team

Principal investigator


Edward Shepherd

Senior Lecturer


This research was made possible through the support of the following organisations: