It’s been over a year since I started writing this blog. In that time, Who Owns England has had over 100,000 views and more than 50,000 visitors – vastly more than I thought likely when setting out – and has received media coverage in the Guardian, Telegraph, Times, Sun, Mirror, Indy, Red Pepper and elsewhere. My huge thanks to everyone who’s read, commented, tweeted and offered words of support along the way.
A special thanks to the wonderful cohort of mappers, data-geeks, historians and land rights activists whose help, expertise, enthusiasm and wisdom has proved invaluable to this blog. There are too many people to thank in full, but I want to particularly thank Tom Kenny, Nick Hayes, Kate Swade, Robin Grey, Miles King, Christian Eriksson, Cat Banks, Gill Barron, Simon Fairlie, Mike Hannis, George Monbiot and Andy Wightman, as well as several folks who’d prefer to remain anonymous but have been hugely generous with their time. Thanks too to The Land Magazine / TLIO who have supported this site with funding. Most of all, I owe a debt of gratitude to Anna Powell-Smith, who has spent countless hours crunching data for the site and who joins Who Owns England as mapping guru and data analyst-in-chief.
So, after a year investigating who owns England, what do we have to show for it? Well, we’ve got some interesting new stats to share with you, but for starters, in case you’re a new reader:
- Our map of who owns England, displaying all the spatial data we have on land ownership, is here;
- If you’re looking for arguments on why land ownership matters, check out my opinion piece here; and for suggestions on how to tackle the problem of empty homes, see our op-ed here;
- And if you’re keen to investigate land ownership yourself, check out this quick guide written for Red Pepper, and our page of tools and resources here.
And now, drumroll…
The latest stats on land ownership in England & Wales
For the first time, we can reveal that companies and the public sector together own around a third of the land area of England and Wales. That’s thanks to an FOI request to the Land Registry done by Private Eye journalist Christian Eriksson, who passed us the data (which dates from 2015). We’ll publish the full spreadsheet later this year, when the Land Registry release their Corporate & Commercial dataset as open data. In the meantime, here’s the topline breakdown:
|Type of organisation||Area in acres|
|UK corporate bodies (excluding charities & trusts)||12,878,549|
|Other corporate bodies (central government, Church Commissioners, The Crown Estate, housing trusts, etc)||4,567,751|
|Industrial and provident societies||247,461|
|Official Custodian for Charities||36,937|
|Other (unlimited companies, housing associations, co-operatives, societies)||80,228|
|Overseas companies (land acquired 2005-2014)||279,523|
|Of which, total owned by companies in offshore jurisdictions||c.230,000|
The Land Registry covers both England & Wales, which together total 37 million acres (England is 32 million acres, Wales 5 million acres).
Together, UK corporate bodies and overseas companies own around 13 million acres of land – roughly a third of England and Wales.
But who owns the remaining two-thirds? Aristocratic families and trusts? Farmers? Charities? Householders? It’s clear we still have much work to do…