Thursday 6 June - 9H/15H30
Special Event UCLY

Conference: This land is whose land ?


This land is… whose land?

Why provision of affordable housing should be at the core of any sustainable land policy


The annual agenda-setting event around public, cooperative and social housing in Europe will be held on Thursday, 6 June 2019 within the 2nd International Social Housing Festival in Lyon. Every year, more than 150 representatives of housing associations across Europe, policymakers and the civil society come together in an exchange that generates evidence-based policy suggestions on the key issues of the housing agenda.

2019 theme: ’This land is… whose land?’

Walk into the centre of the city where you live and have a look around you. What you see is the result of decisions made around land policy in some cases centuries, in most of them decades and just in very few years ago. Land defines our living environment. It defines ourselves. As the legendary French Planner, Philippe Lamour put it in 1967 “Spatial planning is and has to remain the means of modern democracy”.

As the urbanisation trend continues to unfold, today is one of these defining moments in history that we have to decide how we manage land in a sustainable way. The only way to do that is by putting provision of affordable housing at the core of our land policies and spatial planning strategies not only in growing but also in shrinking cities, as no territory can be left behind.

This year’s conference will give a number of reasons why this is the case, illustrating through various concrete examples both the benefits and the destructive effects that land use can have in the long term for social cohesion, quality of life, the Economy and our future.

Be part of the debate, work with us on redefining the new ‘normal’ for our cities.

Agenda of the day

Please note that the morning session takes place in Amphi Marieux while the afternoon session- in form of a workshop- will be held in Amphi Aristote. Staff members will guide you. EN/FR interpretation will be available in the morning session.


Morning | 8:30 – 12:30 @ Amphi Marieux

8:30-9:15 Registration & welcome coffee

9:15-9:30 Opening statements

  • Michel Le Faou, Vice-President of Grand Lyon Metropole, in charge of Housing and Urban Planning
  • Cédric Van Styvendael, President of Housing Europe

9:30 – 11:00 Keynote session

Who owns our cities?
Professor Saskia Sassen will deliver this year’s keynote

Over the last decades the financialization of urban land started transforming the cities, especially in the ‘global cities’. This becomes clear once one visits the city centre of London, Frankfurt or New York in the evening to see huge tower blocks in darkness. More and more land it’s being used as an asset by the high capital through non-transparent procedures that take place in what Saskia Sassen calls ‘intermediary space’. This extraction of land is pushing affordable housing out of our cities, excluding thus a number of key workers. Who owns our cities?

World-renowned Sociologist and Professor at New York’s Columbia University, Saskia Sassen will address this central question that she has coined in the public discourse and will explain to conference participants the dynamics behind this urban land takeover that is in full swing making the link with Europe’s affordable housing challenge.

Saskia Sassen’s keynote will be followed by a discussion with:

  • David Orr CBE, International Housing Expert, Chair of Reall & Board Member of Clarion Housing Group
  • Donal McManus, CEO of the Irish Council for Social Housing (ICSH)
  • Sjoerdje Van Heerden, Scientific Officer at the Joint Research Center of the European Commission, CiTown Project


Coffee break


11:15-12:30 Panel session

The long-term effects of land use. Why we need to shape today the cities of 2050

It may increase the cost of housing delivery by up to 20%. In some places around the world 40 m2 of it are enough for 60 homes, while in others they yield just one. The way a city uses it directly impacts the level of CO2 emissions of its transport system. There is no doubt that land is at the centre of modern urban landscapes.

Unlocking land supply is possibly the most effective lever for addressing the global affordable housing challenge but this is very much linked to the interplay between local property markets, land policies carried out by municipalities and local authorities and planning regulation at both national and local level. At the same time, policies dealing with urban land must balance the need for more supply of affordable housing with measures aimed at increasing social mix, preventing speculation and ‘gentrification’, creating multi-functional urban areas, combining residential investment with efficient transport system, increasing the quality of public and green spaces. Not an easy equation, right?

What is the role of local authorities, housing providers and of the overall community in the puzzle of land? The session will explore how housing providers fight against segregation, how local authorities amend their land use toolkit, addressing also the question to what extent people have the power when it comes to land supply.

  • Local authorities and the land challenge. Barcelona puts forward inclusionary zoning | Josep Maria Montaner, City of Barcelona Housing Councillor
  • Housing providers on a mission against segregation. The success stories of BL in Denmark | Solveig Råberg Tingey, BL Chief Economist
  • Community Land Trusts. Do people have the land power?
    • Caroline Lucats, Director of Housing and Urban & Health Risks, City of Lille gives the perspective of local authorities and shares highlights from the SHICC Project
    • Benoît Tracol, CEO of Rhone Saone Habitat gives the housing providers’ perspective and shares the Lyon experience setting up the Solidarity Land Organization Orsol
  • The Land Use Challenge in Scotland | Sarah Boyack, Vice Chair, Scottish Government’s Vacant & Derelict Land Task Force & Head of Public Affairs, Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA)

Beyond Europe Flash Intervention I
Secure Tenure & Land – Solid Ground’s Principles for secure tenure | Gyorgy Sumeghy, Advocacy Manager, Europe, Middle East and Africa at Habitat for Humanity International


Lunch break +
Meet Christine: a look at Housing Europe’s European Election campaign and Manifesto | #housingeu


Afternoon | 13:30 – 15:00 @ Amphi Aristote

13:30-14:45 Panel Session

Growing cities, shrinking cities and cities on the fringe: the different sides of the land challenge

It’s now a widely recognized reality that major cities face a structural shortage of affordable housing. This means finding adequate and affordable housing in places where job opportunities are is increasingly hard. In a rapidly urbanizing world, the ‘right to the city’ cannot be guaranteed without tackling the housing crisis. At the same time, some of our cities and regions are experiencing outward migration and population decrease. They are faced with very different issues such as high housing vacancy rates and abandoned properties, and a persistent need for services and revitalization of areas with an increasingly excluded and often ageing population. In these two radically different realities, land is the protagonist.

Shrinking cities that create opportunities for their population by changing their course regarding land management, safeguarding the ‘Right to the Shrinking City’. Growing cities that dare to experiment with the so called ‘meanwhile spaces’ and with the change of land use. And then, cities on the fringe, cities that come up with strategies to address the consequences of the fact that the borders between urban and suburban get more and more blurry.

This session will present the whole spectrum of the land challenge and solutions through the eyes of housing providers, creative citizens and international experts who shape the landscapes of the future.

  • The emerging European Urban Landscapes and the Urban Innovative Actions | Raffaele Barbato, UIA Project Coordinator
  • What do you do when your city is shrinking? The case of Halle in Germany | Guido Schwarzendahl, Chair of Bauverein Halle & Leuna eG, Member of Cooperative Housing International Board
  • Bringing empty spaces to life: how SLRB makes use of its vacant buildings before renovation works begin | Celine Di Egidio, Architect at SLRB (Housing Company of the Brussels Capital Region)
  • Cities on the ‘fringe’. Sub>urban strategies for the future | Laura Colini, URBACT Senior Policy Expert

Beyond Europe Flash Intervention II
Land policy – a blessing and a curse for the Right to the City | Álvaro Puertas, Secretary General of Habitat International Coalition & Member of the Support Team of the Global Platform for the Right to the City

14:45-15:00 Wrap up

Sorcha Edwards, Housing Europe Secretary General enters the land of conclusion along with moderator, Eddy Adams


* Check out the Speakers’ Profiles in the Event Booklet



Register now to attend!