Mayor threatens to use CPOs to tackle 'land banking'

Reports that London mayor Boris Johnson has said he is prepared to use compulsory purchase order (CPO) powers to seize unused land from developers features in today's newspaper round-up.

London's Evening Standard reports that Johnson has said that he would be prepared to use CPOs to stop developers "sitting on land until its value goes up". The newspaper says that Johnson told the London Assembly that "pernicious land banking" was contributing to the housing crisis.

The Times (subscription) reports that renewable energy company RES has pledged that people living near new wind farms will receive a discount of £100 off their annual electricity bills. The newspaper says that RES will "pay out to householders and businesses regardless of who their supplier is". According to the newspaper, RES chief operating officer Gordon MacDougall says the scheme comes in response to community feedback, where residents "asked if they can have cheaper electricity in return for hosting a project".

Also in the Times (subscription), news that a discovery of "one to two billion tonnes of coking coal" under the sea off the Cumbrian coast could result in "£500 million worth of investment and up to 500 new jobs". According to the newspaper, Australian company Riverside Energy is developing a mining plan for the deposit and, assuming it gets planning permission, expects the mine to come into production in five years. The newspaper says that coking coal is a key ingredient in making steel and at the moment the UK imports all of its coking coal. 

The Times (subscription) reports that property company British Land is planning to invest "in a signature development that marks the capital's gateway to the west". According to the newspaper, the company is looking to buy insurance firm Aviva's interests in the Paddington Central site, located next to Paddington station. The newspaper says that the site – "a large commercial and residential campus" – will have a Crossrail station once the line is built, "increasing its importance as a key estate in the capital".

Also in the Times (subscription), news that children are having to commute for four hours a day to school because the government's housing benefit cap has forced families to move out of the capital. The newspaper says that nearly 600 families have had to leave London, and "often" end up in bed-and-breakfasts "more than 50 miles from their home borough". According to the newspaper, housing charity Shelter says some London councils have moved families as far as Devon or Manchester.