Housing Strategy (Supplementary) [4]

Session date: 
October 23, 2013
Question By: 
Nicky Gavron
Organisation: 
Labour Group

Question

We know - and you and I have discussed this - that we have 210,000 homes with planning permission which are not being built.  We know that.  In May, you told me that you thought land banking - and many of them are being banked to drive up value - is pernicious.  Your word was ‘pernicious’.  You have just talked about something that you talked about in your Vision, which is introducing a ‘use-it-or-lose-it’ planning permission.  You have also talked at Mayor’s Question Time (MQT) with me about compulsory purchase order (CPO) powers and that they could be introduced, you said, in a way which respected property rights.  I quote here.  This was in May.  You said,

“I am all in favour of using the CPO powers, but we are not living in a Stalinist system and I cannot take land willy-nilly off people.  This is not Zimbabwe or whatever.  But where there are clear cases of land banking, it would be massively to the advantage of this city and those things need to happen and they need to happen fast.” 

That was in May, but last month you said in an article in The Telegraph,

“You won’t get developers risking their cash to build if they are told they are vulnerable to Mugabe-style expropriations.”

 Has your policy changed?

Supplementary To: 

Answer

Answer for Housing Strategy (Supplementary) [4]

Answer for Housing Strategy (Supplementary) [4]

No, I am in favour and I certainly think we should be able to have a ‘use-it-or-lose-it’ clause and developers should be under no illusions that they should not just sit on their land and wait for prices to go up.  That is a thoroughly appropriate way to work.  What I am not in favour of doing is confiscating their property in a draconian, arbitrary and ‘Mugabe-esque’ way.

 I think there is a distinction between the two.  I am not entirely sure what the policy of the Labour Party is now on that, but it seemed to me that they were shifting in the direction of being not so much military towards the developers as confiscatory.  There is a law of private property in this country.  We do have a doctrine of property in this country and it is important that if people hold title to possession in law, they should not be unfairly deprived of them.  On the other hand, if they are simply sitting on property for a very long time, then there should be in my view some powers by the state or by the city authorities to get them going.  That is the distinction I was trying to draw.