Mayor of London Boris Johnson has threatened to use his power of direction to intervene in the London Fire & Emergency Planning Authority's planned sell-of of its former headquarters at 8 Albert Embankment.
Deputy Mayor of London Sir Edward Lister this week wrote to the London Fire & Emergency Planning Authority informing them that Boris Johnson is "minded" to direct LFEPA to market-test the disposal of the Albert Embankment site using the London Development Panel.
The panel establishes a framework agreement between 25 developers, enabling public land owners, to award individual contracts without having to go through a full procurement process each time. Panel members include major developers such as Lend Lease and the Berkeley Group.
The future of the Albert Embankment site is up for grabs following LFEPA's decision to ditch Native Land as its development partner. Last May a planning inspector dismissed an appeal against Lambeth Council's refusal of planning permission for a redevelopment scheme.
The fire authority's urgency committee held a special meeting on Thursday afternoon to consider the Mayor's threat.
Part of a confidential report prepared for LFEPA members earlier this month has now been made public.
LFEPA officers warn that although using London Development Panel could provide a route to a quick sale, it may not enable the authority to obtain the best price for the prime riverside site.
"Since the decision by the authority to terminate, officers and their advisers have received numerous expressions of interest from a variety of funders and developers who are not on the panel and who have strong credentials in the property development market," said the report.
"Dron and Wright (the authority's estate agents) advise that there is therefore a reasonable likelihood that the best bid from members of the panel would be below the consideration which was obtainable from the open market for this particular site.
"This would mean that the authority would be unable to demonstrate that it had achieved the best consideration reasonably obtainable for this site in line with its statutory duty."
By cancelling its agreement with Native Land, LFEPA hoped to gain more than the £42 million it was due to receive from that developer.