Councils should use compulsory purchase powers more, says development corporation chief

Councils need to make more use of compulsory purchase order powers to deliver new housing in urban areas, a development corporation chief has told the Planning for Housing conference.

Liz Peace speaking at the Planning for Housing conference earlier today
Liz Peace speaking at the Planning for Housing conference earlier today

Speaking at a session on speeding up housing delivery, Liz Peace, chair of the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation in west London, said councils should make more use of compulsory purchase order (CPO) powers when it comes to the redevelopment of brownfield land. 

She said: "We [public sector bodies] need [compulsory purchase] powers but we have got to be willing to use them.

"It is difficult for local authorities but there is no point in having CPO powers if you don’t actually take the opportunity."

Peace said that in urban areas, "the low-hanging fruit for housing development has mostly gone", and that "what is left is challenging brownfield sites that all need a degree of infrastructure investment".

"Many of these are sites that do need big infrastructure investment - we are talking about hundreds of millions of pounds worth,"she said. "So we need creative approaches to financing."

Speaking at the same session, Stewart Murray, strategic director of economic growth at the London Borough of Waltham Forest, said the new London Plan was setting significant challenges in terms of increased housing targets as well as protection of green belt land, open spaces and industrial land.

"Outer London Boroughs are going to take more pressure and they have got to densify and get more active in the market to identify sites," he said.

"We have done a very proactive housing capacity study and projected that we can deliver 10-15 years of supply, but we have got to be really creative about unlocking those sites."

Elsewhere, Julian Larkin, managing director at developer Harrow Estates, said the key for speeding up housing delivery was to "engage the silent majority in the planning process".

He said: "As practitioners, we need to find innovative ways of getting those who need the housing engaged in the system. 

"We also need full local plan coverage with a wide range of sites. Big sites won’t do it alone."

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