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HDV | Ransom-strips, hostage-holding, conflicts-of-interest and municipal compromises

MANY of the HDV sites would be capable of totally independent (private) development.

The difficulty with that kind of development, is that before a purchase could go ahead, any buyer would want a guarantee from the Council of certain planning approvals.

Few Councils would dispose of such sites by say auction or tender, without any outline planning permissions. What local authorities can bring to the table – that developers covet – is the ability to provide planning permissions and sometimes, compulsory purchase orders (CPOs).

If – for fear of “NIMBYs” – a Council has to sell off sites cheaply, then when development is completed, Councils tend to be green with envy over the loss of profit. Like many of us, councils are generally in favour of having their cake and eating it.

This, despite the fact that Councils often lack the in-house skills to be developers themselves. In respect of their Big Sites, Councils’ envy and hassle may be multiplied by a factor of ten.

Ownership of properties adjacent to the Big Sites

There is a risk– later on – that a piece of land could be held hostage by a property developer.

What would be of interest to developers, is the ownership of properties adjacent to the Big sites and the willingness of the Council to issue CPOs should their HDV partner just happen to be in a position to acquire options on adjoining plots for comprehensive development.

A case in point may be the areas around the potential Crossrail-2 sites. How does the Council stop its HDV partner from independently acquiring ”ransom strips of land that are needed to complete development?

As far as the Council is concerned, this is a conflict of interest.

However, if one part of the Partner organisation can sell an asset to another part of its organisation at a premium, it’d be a smart practice.

That is the flip-side of the issues raised by CPOs.

With a little editing by me, these comments have been
contributed by a professional who has worked in property
development and who wishes to remain anonymous

Clir. Clive Carter

Tags: CPO, HDV, Haringey Development Vehicle, Overarching vehicle, hostage, planning permission, ransom

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