Appearing at the Mipim UK event, London deputy mayor for housing James Murray was asked why the Greater London Authority was considering setting up a centre of expertise for use of compulsory purchase powers, given that the mayor’s draft housing strategy describes the use of compulsory purchase as "a last resort".
The strategy says that the centre "could assist councils, given the high costs and time commitments that CPOs require, and the opportunity to create economies of scale by pooling resources and staff".
Murray said: "When we have discussions with the [property] industry, they often come back to the question of the difficulty of getting plots that are ready to be built out. We can help by using land assembly powers".
He maintained that the mayor still saw compulsory purchase as a last resort, but was interested in how the proposed centre could enhance public sector expertise in the process.
"If we are going to have a more active role in the land market, it is important that the possibility of use of those [compulsory purchase] powers is credible", he said.
Earlier, he had told delegates that the public sector in London "does not take as interventionist an approach as it could" in the land market in terms of land assembly and providing infrastructure.