Labour leader Ed Miliband's ‘use it or lose it’ threat to developers has met with a highly critical reception. Miliband told delegates at the Labour party conference: “We will say to private developers – you can’t just sit on land and refuse to build. Either use the land or lose the land.”
However, his suggestions that local councils should be able to possess land from developers have been greeted with disbelief. New homes developers have often argued that it is legal obligations imposed by councils themselves – especially a duty to provide affordable housing – that make schemes expensive or unviable.
Jonathan Hopper, managing director of property finders Garrington, said that Miliband’s suggestion opens up “a whole can of worms”. He asked: “Why would councils have the right to do this when it is often their own over-onerous planning gain agreements that are holding up development? Clearly, their right to buy back will have to exclude all such schemes or we will be looking at a lawyers’ charter. “Is this the start of a new agenda for nationalisation?”