Compulsory Purchase – Coming to a Property Near you?

In the old days, Public Authorities would use compulsory powers to acquire land for public purposes. The world has moved on and the majority of Compulsory Purchase Orders relate to schemes where the Public Authority is acting in partnership with private developers using their compulsory powers to assemble sites for development.

On the face of things that seems like a good idea but in practice the experience of claimants in such circumstances is far from good. I am presently acting for an independent retailer. Their town centre shop was the subject of a Compulsory Purchase Order sponsored by the Local Authority in partnership with a private developer. When it came to sorting things out, the private developer told them that they could only have a replacement shop in a nearby Centre (which happened also to be owned by the developer) if they signed away all of their compensation rights for the acquisition of their existing unit. It was only a strongly worded letter to the Chief Executive of the Local Authority which served to change their tune. The Local Authority concerned realised that they could be open to a charge of abuse of power and process.

Meanwhile the Conservative Government has pledged to make compulsory purchase “clearer, fairer and faster”. This includes the possibility of higher levels of compensation where that would lead to an early settlement justified on the basis that it avoids the need for a Compulsory Purchase Order thus saving costs and delay and benefitting all parties. A good idea or a recipe for dodgy deals?

Concerns have been raised that attempts to speed up the process may result in inadequate notice periods for gaining access for survey purposes and taking possession of land and buildings and transparency and fairness might be compromised at the expense of speed. The Government are due to make an announcement on their proposals in the autumn.

Finally, there are serious concerns that the privatised utilities are abusing their powers and denying claimants their proper rights to compensation. Legislation enables them to serve notice to take entry for the purpose of laying sewers and other public utilities subject to the payment of compensation under the Statutory Compensation Code. I am currently dealing with a number of cases where a water company has carried out the works and is simply refusing to pay compensation. The only redress open to the claimants is an application to the Upper Chamber (Lands Division) which may prove prohibitively costly in relation to the size of the claim.

This article has been prepared by Andrew Boulter FRICS of Underwoods who is a founder member of the Compulsory Purchase Association. Readers with questions and concerns over Compulsory Purchase and compensation matters are welcome to contact Andrew 01604 783001 email ab@underwoods.co.uk.

Robert Keeves

01604 774143

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Compulsory Purchase – Coming to a Property Near you?

In the old days, Public Authorities would use compulsory powers to acquire land for public purposes. The world has moved on and the majority of Compulsory Purchase Orders relate to schemes where the Public Authority is acting in partnership with private developers using their compulsory powers to assemble sites for development. On the face of […]