private keep out

Who owns England?: What we know so far & where next

When I started this blog back in August, I didn’t expect it to generate the interest that it has. But I’ve been constantly blown away by the number of readers, retweets, media interest and, most of all, kind offers of help. My thanks to everyone who’s read and contributed to this blog over these past months – and particularly to two contributors who wanted to remain anonymous, but who have done a huge amount to help me obtain and crunch through data on who owns England.

A new year’s a good time to take stock, so I thought I’d do a summary of what I’ve found out so far, and follow that up with a taster of investigations yet to come.

What do we now know about Who owns England?

We now know that:

So what’s next?

Rest assured there is much, much more to come. So here’s a sneak peek at some of the investigations and blog posts I’ve got underway:

  • I’m hoping to share with you a map of all the land ownership data I’ve gathered so far – the most comprehensive map of land ownership in England yet built.
  • Who owns England’s uplands? I’ve been given funding by Chapter 7 / The Land Is Ours to construct a complete map of land ownership of the English uplands. This will build on previous investigations into grouse moors and water utilities. The uplands are a fascinating and heavily contested part of the English landscape: who owns and manages them is of great importance to reducing flooding, protecting species, and combatting climate change. Yet they are owned by a vanishingly small number of people and organisations.
  • Who owns the land most sought-after for housebuilding? And is landbanking by certain firms and individuals driving up house prices?
  • Who owns our best-quality agricultural land? And is it being used wisely, or wasted?
  • What land is owned by councils? This one’s gonna take a lot of work to pull together, but a group of kind volunteers have offered to help out.
  • What do the Royals own? I’ll be picking apart the ancient landholdings of the Crown Estate, the Duchies of Cornwall and Lancaster, and the Queen’s private estates.

Onwards into 2017 – and to answering the question of who owns England!

14 thoughts on “Who owns England?: What we know so far & where next

  1. This is a magnificent achievement, Guy. Congratulations to you and everyone who has been helping, anonymously and otherwise. I can see a book and a media campaign in the offing, and I believ e there will be an election in a 2019 (if not earlier).

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  2. Great work. The more hard facts there are that are publicly available the better. I look forward to learning more from you. Could have done with some of this information when I wrote a slightly tongue in cheek blog post looking at landownership in the UK from a very lateral minded point of view….

    what if General citizens owned land and benefitted from it the way the queen does?

    https://rubiksplanet.wordpress.com/2015/01/02/universal-basic-capital/#more-3

    RP

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    1. Thanks! I’ll be posting about this in future I hope – in a nutshell, the Church Commissioners own around 105,000 acres and Dioceses own more. There’s a lot of uncertainty about what’s happened to ‘glebe land’ – with a lot of it likely to have been sold off in the past century.

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  3. it is certainly interesting subject and i think you are on something here. However from what i understand England is 130,279 km2, which is over 32 million acres (approximately 1.5 acres per person).
    it would be interesting to know who owns the remaining 90%ish.

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    1. Hi Herve, you’re quite right – England is around 32 million acres – the entire UK, about 60 million acres. I reckon I’ve tracked down the owners of only about 10% of this UK-wide figure so far – mostly institutional owners within the public and third sectors. The remainder will be largely in private ownership, and I suspect a very large proportion of this is highly concentrated into large estates. A full answer requires the Land Registry to be opened up!

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      1. Interesting. Another angle worth investigating I think is how much of England/UK is foreign-owned (owned by people/institution living abroad), and whether any land is owned by other sovereign countries. I appreciate this is probably impossible to find out right now.

        Well done on starting to piece this jigsaw though.

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