Land rights and responsibilities statement: consultation analysis

Analysis of responses to the land rights and responsibilities statement consultation, which closed on 10 March 2017.

7. Views on Principle 2 of the Land Rights and Responsibilities Statement

Principle 2

There should be an increasingly diverse and widely dispersed pattern of land ownership and tenure, which properly reflects national and local aspirations and needs.

Question 5: Do you agree with Principle 2 of the Land Rights and Responsibilities Statement? Please provide comments.

7.1 44 (71%) respondents answered the first part of Question 5. Of these, 33 agreed with Principle 2 of the Statement. Table 7.1 summarises views by category of respondent.

Table 7.1 Views on Principle 2 by category of respondent

Category Agree Disagree No. of respondents providing a view
National NGOs 9 1 10
Private Sector and Professional Bodies 4 0 4
Community Organisations and their Representative Bodies 3 2 5
Government and NDPBs 1 0 1
Academic 1 0 1
Total Organisations 18 3 21
Total Individuals 15 8 23
Grand total 33 11 44

7.2 Organisations who provided a view expressed more support for Principle 2 than did individuals, one-third of whom disagreed with the Principle.

7.3 40 respondents provided further relevant commentary in response to Question 5, and their views are summarised below.

General views in support of Principle 2

7.4 National NGOs, in particular, welcomed Principle 2 in terms of its focus on broadening the pattern of land ownership, the inclusion of “tenure”, and the mention of the role of charitable bodies in managing Scotland’s natural and built heritage. Increased diversity of ownership was envisaged as promoting fairer access to land, which would support increased agricultural output, intelligent local regeneration processes and dynamic economic development.

7.5 An academic supported the inclusion of affordable housing within the Principle; a NDPB considered that broader access to land assets was fundamental to a modern, forward-thinking country seeking to build a fairer society and achieve sustainable growth.

Views on realising Principle 2

7.6 A few National NGOs emphasised the need for responsibility to accompany land ownership and tenure, and suggested that communities be provided with professional support to manage acquired land and property.

7.7 Some respondents identified the need for adjustments to current legislation and regulations to facilitate the realisation of Principle 2. For example: shortening the time during which land must be developed, following the granting of planning permission; relaxing planning permissions for rural housing and small business premises; updating the Compulsory Purchase Order process.

7.8 A few respondents suggested that greater emphasis will need to be placed on pro-actively ensuring larger landowners are obliged to sell part of their assets, perhaps by restricting the size of land permitted to be owned by one landowner.

7.9 Consistency and confidence were viewed as vital in realising the Principle, with a few respondents suggesting that unless terms such as “sustainable development” are clarified, then there will be inconsistency and lack of confidence in land and property markets.

7.10 One National NGO acknowledged the cultural change promoted by Principle 2, and identified the need for an education campaign to facilitate such change, particularly around greater female land ownership.

Queries emerging

7.11 A few respondents requested clarification on the interaction between Principle 2 and the Land Use Strategy, for example, regarding the proposal for the re-establishment of regional land use partnerships. One respondent provided their view:

“….the terms “increasingly diverse” and “widely dispersed” are too vague to be meaningful. What is the desired level of diversity or dispersal in land ownership patterns? Changing ownership patterns without setting a strategic direction for the outcomes we would like to see on the ground will not necessarily secure more sustainable land use or management. This is where we would like to see a much stronger connection with the Scottish Land Use Strategy” ( RSPB Scotland).

7.12 A few respondents raised the issue of security of tenure, with some querying how what they perceived to be a currently complex system would address the emphasis on greater diversity of ownership and tenure.

7.13 Some National NGOs and community organisations sought clarification on the terms, “widely dispersed” and “a wide and diverse availability of land and buildings”.

Views opposing Principle 2

7.14 A recurring view, particularly amongst National NGOs and private sector respondents was that diversity of ownership does not relate directly with diversity of land use or management. Some emphasised that diversity of land use can develop without any change of ownership. An example was given of local businesses renting land or premises from landowners who then have an interest in seeing their respective tenants prosper.

7.15 Several respondents identified what they considered to be disadvantages of greater diversity of land ownership: the loss of economies of scale necessary for some agricultural production; hampering of the cohesive management required for certain assets such as trees; loss of specialist management required for assets such as historic houses; loss of cross-subsidisation opportunities required to sustain significant though loss-making property; and challenges to efficient regeneration of, for example, town centres, due to fragmented ownership structures frustrating renewal.

7.16 A few respondents considered Principle 2 ideological and avoiding the realities of market forces. Some suggested that the Principle took attention away from the key issue of stewardship of land, how it is used rather than how it is owned.


Email: Chris Bierley,

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

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