Ground Control

Investigating land ownership in European capitals

Affordable housing is becoming scarce in European cities. While many politicians and developers suggest the housing crisis could be solved by building new apartments, there is an underlying problem: not only are rent and property prices rising, but so are the prices of land.

Where can we still build affordable housing? Who owns the land that remains unused? And how much common land have cities lost over time – selling it off at low prices to largely unknown companies?

A team of investigative, local and data journalists organized within the Urban Journalism Network is investigating the dynamics of “ground control” in European capitals, starting with Paris, Brussels, Berlin, Prague, Warsaw and Budapest.

We are researching data on price developments of building plots, the ownership structures of urban land and comparing them across countries in order to show both common trends and disparities. Using satellite and aerial images, we furthermore aim at showing developments in each city and bringing transparency to urban politics.

Ground Control is a continuation of three years of collaborative European investigations into the housing crisis. The project grew from the Arena Housing Network, then leading to the cross-border investigation #Cities4Rent, that investigated corporate landlords and owners of large housing funds across Europe. Following investigations focused on the trend of micro-living and student housing as new investment objects and on the growing trade of unpaid debts, so-called Non-Performing Loans, since the start of the financial crisis (#GhostDebts).

Find more about the investigation and the Urban Journalism Network in the sub-pages.

Below you find the first initial outcomes of the investigation. More results will be published in the upcoming months.

If you have comments or questions, or if you want to contribute data or to research “ground control” yourself, do get in touch.



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