MHCLG consultation published – ‘Right to Regenerate’ vacant land and derelict buildings

On 16 January 2021, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) announced a new ‘Right to Regenerate’ that will enable the public to require local authorities and the public sector to sell unused land and assets. Alongside the announcement, MCHLG has published an 8 week consultation seeking views on this new right.

The proposal is that the public will be able to convert publicly owned vacant plots of land and derelict buildings (including unused social housing and garages) into new homes or community spaces. Unless public bodies have clear plans for the use of the land in the near future (including a temporary use before later development) they would be required to sell the land on to the interested party.

The “Right to Regenerate” has been described by MHCLG as a “relaunching” of the “Right to Contest”; a similar right which evolved from legislation from 1980 but has had relatively little uptake and with the majority of requests being refused.  MHCLG’s aim is that the new right could provide a “quicker and easier route for individuals, businesses and organisations to identify, purchase and redevelop underused or empty land in their area” supporting “greater regeneration of brownfield land, boost[ing] housing supply and empower[ing] people to turn blights and empty spaces in their areas into more beautiful developments”.

The consultation sets out a range of questions including:-

  • Would a definition of unused or underused land be useful, and, if so, what should such a definition include?
  • Should the right be extended to include unused and underused land owned by town and parish councils?
  • Should the government incentivise temporary use of unused land which has plans for longer term future use?
  • Should the government introduce a presumption in favour of disposal of land or empty homes/garages where requests are made under the right?
  • Should the government impose conditions on the disposal of land? And if so, what conditions would be appropriate?

If enacted this new right would have a significant impact on the planning and management of public sector property portfolios. We would therefore encourage our public sector clients to read through the proposals and submit responses to the consultation via the MHCLG’s online survey or by email to by 13 March 2021.

Should you require any advice or assistance in relation to this proposal, please contact

This article is for general awareness only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this page was first published. If you would like further advice and assistance in relation to any of the issues raised in this article, please contact us today by telephone or email

Posted in Latest news and blog, Local government.