Land Markets and Housing Policy


Willem Korthals Altes
Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment
Delft University of Technology
Delft, The Netherlands

Berit Nordahl
Department of Landscape Architecture and Spatial Planning
Norwegian University of Life Science
Aas, Norway

Central theme
The Working Group addresses how policy and planning systems and (local) government institutions influence the supply of land for various categories of housing. Policies for development gain, cost recovery policies, negotiations, and the role of law and institutions might serve as key words. Resulting from the interplay between market forces and national policies for housing, spatial planning and land use, the way land for housing is being provided varies largely across countries. Policies sometimes clashes with EU common market rules. International comparison and exchange may bring up suggestions for improving some of these national policies and practices. And wherever such rules apply it may help to find an effective balance between national land-related policies supporting social and affordable housing and the EU rules on state support and fair competition.

Activities and output in recent years
From 2007 until now we organised a workshop at the annual ENHR conferences. The 2017 conference workshop attracted eight papers and two oral presentations. The workshop had good discussions related to (a) property issues in urban redevelopment and (b) the role of land in provision for affordable housing.

2014: Special issue on Inclusionary Housing (Journal of Housing and the Built Environment, Volume 29, Issue 3, September 2014) with country-specific contributions for Norway, the UK, Austria, New Zealand, Italy, the US, Turkey and the Netherlands by the participants of the Working Group.

Special Issue on Land Policy for Housing Supply: In 2014 the Working Group aimed to pave the ground for publishing comparative articles in a scientific journal on the role of local authorities in providing land for housing. We especially invited papers based on current research relating to house building on private-owned versus public owned land, the variations in policies of land assembly for housing provision and cross country variations of land public disposal, i.e., to whom and by which specifications. In 2018 we will move this ambition ahead.

The workshop at the 2018 ENHR Conference in Uppsala attracted 6 papers. The workshop had good discussions related to (a) property issues in urban redevelopment, (b) the role of land in provision for affordable housing (c) the role of policies relating to land and housing.

Future plans and activities

Policy implications
Policy issues are key to this Working Group. The Working Group aims at producing an inventory of the provision of land for housing in various national institutional contexts, and an analysis of bottlenecks in this provision regarding three aspects:

  • the availability of land (quantitative, as well as qualitative)
  • the price of serviced land
  • the extent to which and the way in which issues related to state support and equal competition are incorporated in national systems of provision of land for social and affordable housing, and an assessment of the viability of these systems in the light of (developments in) EU law.

These activities may result in an exchange of best practices, as well as a set of suggestions for national policies on land for social and affordable housing and an enabling EU policy and legal framework, as well as joint research activities and publications.

The Working Group is open for theoretical and practical approaches. In theoretical respect, the Working Group welcomes a variety of approaches of markets, state intervention, institutional dynamics and governance, including new institutional economics, the theory of social origins of non-profit regimes, the perspective of Law and Economics, and so on.
We also welcome contributions assessing the workings of land markets in relation to housing, as well as the nature of, and the effect of regulations and interventions. This Working Group addresses models in which land is made available for housing and discusses commonalties and divergences across countries.
The topic of this group is cross disciplinary and we welcome contributions using various approaches and disciplines, such as, economy, sociology, architecture and law. Regarding this last aspect, the group works in close cooperation with the Legal Aspects of Housing, Land and Planning Working Group.