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Hints for underprivileged landholders

We are all familiar by now with several well‑tried ways to successful landownership. Cash in on grants of planning permission (everywhere and anywhere). Collect other people’s subsidies or tax breaks (agriculture). Take advantage of infrastructural improvements (road, rail). Leech on to improved social order (Belfast), devolution of political and administrative authority (Edinburgh, Cardiff), urban regeneration schemes (Thames Gateway). Ride on the back of a collective extravaganza (the Olympics). Suck benefit from the catchment areas of the better schools. Exploit the satisfaction to be had from overlooking lovely parkland, a good beach, the sea, the mountains, the lakes. Rake in the locational spoils offered by business, retail, entertainment, tourism, and residential needs (London and any comparable “hot spot”).

Why, though, are some landowners so good at milking rent from their holdings? We have noted a geographical trend. With the odd exception, your south of England landlord is hugely successful at squeezing big money out of his land, but as we move northwards we see increasingly marked fall‑off in performance, right through to the Highland lairds whose rent productivity per acre is, frankly, scandalously low. Can it be that the riches of the landowner depend on the presence and activity of other people? No personal effort is required: just look at Nature’s bounty and wait on the turn of events. There is nothing a landowner, as mere title holder of land, can do, anyway! Rural landowners everywhere ought really to be considering rolling up their land and relocating to the centres of the big cities, but that is the one snag of possessing a monopoly location: it just can not be moved. It’s a tough life, but it does beat working for a living!