The French Member of Parliament for Haute Garonne, Jean-Luc Lagleize has published its report written at the request of the Government on “controlling the cost of land in construction operations.” This document, very rich and nourished by in-depth consultations with local elected representatives and professionals, marks an important step in the reflection on controlling the cost of land, and indirectly on affordable housing. For the new system that is emerging to be acceptable, it will be necessary that the advances for the benefit of local elected representatives are balanced by advances for the benefit of private operators, to avoid the obstacles of excessive interventionism. Each stakeholder in the land question finds in the 50 proposals answers to its own issues: local authorities, public and private owners, developers, EPF – including the state, the first concerned by the end of the auction public land.
Local elected officials empowered
The report particularly highlights the responsibility of local elected officials (via, for example, the idea of a finding of deficiency in Malthusian municipalities, the crystallisation of the characteristics of a building permit or the strengthening of the link between PLU and PLH), at the same time it provides them with a set of tools to activate a local land policy (observatories and land agencies, in particular), and resources (PVI, density bonus). Some measures go far in the interventionism of local authorities, such as the definition of sales price caps in PLUs, and will be acceptable to private operators only in a mutually beneficial way where more opportunities to build and densify will be also open to them.
The pressure is rising to make no net land take a binding objective, but it will only be sustainable in the long term if, at the same time, urban density, which is so difficult to implement today, is really encouraged. The report deals with this by proposing assistance to “densifying mayors”, the encouragement of elevation or the transformation of wastelands and the simplified possibilities of overcoming the constructability of PLUs.
Strong tax levers
The report deals with both the upstream, with a profound transformation of the taxation of capital gains value to discourage retention, and the downstream, with a good understanding of the expectations of investors as individuals (Pinel and IFI) as well as institutional investors. The new Pinel ceilings mentioned in the report, however, are among the many points on which trade remains necessary.
The generalizsation of land-building unbundling
The report proposes to generalise the logic of the SFOs beyond social accession, through the creation of “free” land offices. This orientation is in the right direction, but with a point of vigilance: the OFLs could only have a public or semi-public status, when the SFOs can also be created by private non-profit operators. This backtracking is a form of distrust of the private sector, which would be difficult to explain at a time when the contribution of all is welcome.
The ball is now in the hands of the Government and Parliament to transform the test and translate into reality a set of measures to create the conditions for a real “supply shock”. The FPI will be very careful that the measures taken do not alter the overall balance that the relationship draws between the interventionism of local authorities and the greater capacity to make private operators.
For Alexandra François-Cuxac, President of the FPI France:
“The Lagleize report has the flaws of its qualities: fed by exchanges with all the stakeholders, it abounds with interesting proposals, often ambitious, but many of which remain to be specified in the work to come. Some go in the direction of regulation, others in the area of freedom The objective of putting land at the service of housing policy can only be achieved if this spirit of compromise continues in future legislation. “