Southwark Land Commission – a first for London

Southwark Land Commission is the first commission of its kind in London, and only the second in England. It will bring together a panel of experts, community groups and major landowners. Together they will work to free up more of Southwark's land, for the benefit of local people. The Commission will consider current land use across Southwark and look for more potential opportunities. The aim is to help change how we all think about land use in the city for evermore.

The challenge:

More than 300,000 people live alongside one another in just 11 square miles in the London Borough of Southwark. The land we have is precious. We must use it for the benefit of us all.

The solution:

The new Southwark Land Commission has been established to explore how more land in the borough can be used for public good. Representatives from across Southwark have been invited to join the commission to help shape recommendations for improvements. Future uses could include quality green space, food growing, active travel, community wealth building, and genuinely affordable housing.

The impact:

Setting up a Land Commission was agreed in September 2022 as a commitment in the Council Delivery Plan, the organisation’s business plan, 2022 to 2026.

The impacts of the land commission could be fundamentally transformative in terms of how the borough does business between various stakeholders and landowners. Rather than competing, bidding and hoarding space, partners could explore where they have joint ambitions and the means to achieve them together.

It is an ambitious vision which seeks to alter the very fabric of the local land economy; the costs, savings and income of which could be significant if landowners approach the recommendations with an open mind and a willingness to explore a new way forward, together.

How is the new approach being sustained:

The plan is for a fast paced approach that will see recommendations delivered by late Spring 2023. A team has been assembled to deliver the commission and to support the commissioners in their process of exploration.

Lessons learned:

Already we have learned the vital importance of collaboration and inclusion. We know we need to work together, linking with partners and groups across the borough, to make sure our diverse population is represented.

The Southwark Land Commission will hold three main monthly board meetings as well as workshops with local community groups. The first board meeting will take place on Tuesday 28 February. The board will shape the direction of the commission and we will learn many lessons along the way in this innovative venture.

More info about leads for the Commission: Cllr James McAsh, Cabinet Member for the Climate Emergency and Sustainable Development, is the council political lead for the SLC. The commission is chaired by Dr Miatta Fahnbulleh, Chief Executive of the New Economics Foundation.