Compulsory Purchase Orders Explained by SAM Conveyancing
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Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO)

16/05/2022
47
6 min read

What is the meaning of compulsory purchase?

A Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) allows a public body to force you to sell your home if it obstructs a regeneration project or if doing so is ruled to be 'in the public good'.

They are generally taken out by local authorities and used when, for example, a regeneration project is planned and your home lies on the land where the development will take place.

The public body cannot force you to sell simply by making the compulsory purchase order. The validity of the order may be challenged by judicial review within 6 weeks. Then the order must be confirmed by a confirming authority, either:
  • the relevant government minister (the confirmation of CPOs located in Wales is the responsibility of Welsh ministers); or
  • an inspector appointed by the relevant minister to take the decision on their behalf (‘delegated cases’).
The process can be quite complex and drawn out as it involves consultations and you have to be allowed to lodge objections.

However the good news is that the authority involved must normally compensate you. You can be compensated for, among other things:
  • the value of the property;
  • the cost of acquiring and moving to a new property; and
  • the costs of seeking professional advice.
You can therefore look to get your conveyancing costs which accompany your move to a new home refunded.

This article examines:

    1

    Which laws underpin Compulsory Purchase Orders?

Essentially the main laws in England & Wales which govern the use of Compulsory Purchase Orders are:

    2

    Is a purchase order mandatory?

You can refuse a compulsory purchase order. However, you should bear in mind that the public body serving the CPO would already have been expected to exhaust other options before issuing the notice which, for example, in the case of the construction of a supermarket, would mean the supermarket was expected to carry out private negotiations with you first, among other things.

Objecting to a proposed CPO

There are limited grounds and strict timescales in which you can object. Seek legal advice as soon as possible, to see if you can make an objection. All objections must be submitted to the relevant authority in writing.

Contact us to get legal advice from our trusted solicitors.

Valid objections will be considered by a Planning Inspector through written representations or a public enquiry. They will prepare a report making recommendations as to whether the confirming authority should modify or reject the order.

Challenging the confirmation of a CPO

The challenge you face is that by the time the body has secured a CPO, they would most likely have 'covered all bases' - normally the process includes at least one public consultation - so even though you can opt to take the body to court, you'd need to have legally watertight grounds to have any chance of success.

You can challenge the confirmation in the high court if one or more of the following apply:
  • The powers granted by the CPO exceed the powers permitted by the Act of Parliament under which they are being sought
  • Correct procedure was not followed
  • The confirming authority hasn't come to the decision properly (e.g. disregarding relevant considerations or focusing on irrelevant ones).
The high court has the power to quash all or part of the CPO, or to request the confirming authority to reconsider the CPO.

Current legislation does allow you to be compensated for any payments you make for advice from, for example, expert surveyors - you're entitled to receive advice of a comparable standard to the public body intending to force the purchase - although the costs have to be reasonable.

You certainly can't object simply because you disagree with CPOs on principle or 'don't like' being forced to move. You should carefully consider any advice you receive from the surveyor you've chosen - who should have expertise in this area - and act accordingly.

    3

    How long is a Compulsory Purchase Order valid for?

If a CPO is confirmed, it must be exercised within 3 years of the date that the order was made.

    4
    How will they take possession of my home?
There are 5 different ways they can acquire your home:
  • By agreement - the land owner agrees the terms on which to sell, the price may include an amount in respect of severance, injurious affection and disturbance as appropriate
  • Notice to Treat - if you receive a notice to treat you should respond to the questions it raises and to submit a notice of claim for compensation, in writing, to the acquiring authority within their specified timescale (no less than 21 days).

    & Notice of Entry - this gives notice of the date on which the authority intend to take possession of the property (no less than 3 months). You may be able to serve a counter notice requesting them to take possession on a different date.

    The title does not transfer until it has been conveyed
  • General vesting declaration - gives the acquiring authority the right to enter and take possession of the land and it vests (transfers) the title to the land, to the acquiring authority.
  • By procedures for acquiring ‘short tenancies’ (less than one year) - The acquiring authority may terminate a short lease by acquiring the freehold/head lease and serving notice to quit under the terms of the lease.

    Or, the acquiring authority can serve a notice of entry provided a notice to treat has been served on the freehold interest.
  • Blight notice - You may bring forward your acquisition if your property has become 'blighted' (Blight is when the value of the property is reduced as a result of planning or development), if you are:
    • a resident owner-occupier of a private dwelling
    • an owner-occupier of any business property where the annual (rateable) value does not exceed the prescribed limit at the date of service of blight notice
    • an owner-occupier of an agricultural unit
    • certain mortgagees and personal representatives
    • Not an investment property owner
    You must use this form to give written notice, stating your interest in the land and the statutory grounds.

    The acquiring authority can serve a counter notice under specific circumstances (within 2 months). If you disagree with the counter notice you can take the matter to the upper tribunal (lands chamber) within 2 months.

    5
    How much will I get paid?
Compensation depends on what type of property you own or occupy:

Frequently Asked Questions

Compulsory purchase powers are the legal powers that acquiring authorities have to buy land when the owner does not want to sell, whether at all or to the authority in particular.

They exist to support development, regeneration and infrastructure projects in the public interest, to improve social, economic and environmental wellbeing.
Public bodies responsible for planning, highways or housing have the power to make a compulsory purchase order, if:
  • land is required to execute the project;
  • the body is authorised by statute to purchase land compulsorily for a specific purpose and that a CPO is necessary to achieve that purpose;
  • they have first attempted to acquire the land willingly through negotiation;
  • compelling public interest justifies the exercise of compulsory purchase powers;
  • those affected are invited to object; and
  • the CPO and the project have (or will likely have, within a reasonable timescale) the necessary finance in place.
The power to confirm the order lies with the 'confirming authority' - see above.
 
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