The “vacant land tax” proposed by the Welsh Government should not discriminate against private rural landowners who possess land within county Local Development Plans. Charles de Winton, Rural Surveyor for CLA Cymru says, “Country landowners should not be the unintended victims of a tax which is actually intended to target vacant development land held by developers or those who speculatively accumulate plots.”
The Welsh Government’s Finance Secretary, Mark Drakeford has suggested a punitive tax on some land which is not used for building.
Charles de Winton adds, “Small rural plots may not be viable to develop. A tax which forces them into development will inevitably increase the cost of development – a cost which will passed-on to the end-user. This does not help us tackle the crisis in availability of rural homes.”
“Rural landowners are major investors in residential development. Our research shows that over one-third of the £1.3 billion annually invested into the economy by rural landowners is put into residential development. But we’ve also found that over one-in-three rural landowners have actually been frustrated from investing in housing – the principal barrier to investment being the planning regime, not the willingness to build.” Mr de Winton says, “Landowners are the life-blood of the rural economy. An arbitrary tax which penalises landowners will do nothing to tackle the real issue which hinders residential development.”
“The key target of the proposed tax may residential development corporates, but the impact on the rural economy must be properly understood.” Mr de Winton continues, “Private landowners are key providers of homes in rural Wales in the absence of public sector supply. Everything should be done to encourage this vital sector.”
“An impact on rural landowners may be an unintended consequence,” Charles de Winton concludes, “but it is important that the Welsh Government takes action with the needs of rural community front-of-mind.”