Statutory Blight and Public Infrastructure Schemes: part 3 – Alternative options

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In this third and final part of our introduction to statutory blight and how it can arise when local authorities and public bodies are promoting their infrastructure schemes, we provide some suggested alternative options similar to, but outside of, the statutory blight regime.

Previously, we examined the legal concept of statutory blight, and how and when it may apply, before going on to explain procedure steps that may arise when making a claim in the second part.

Why consider an alternative to statutory blight?

Generally, there are two reasons why you should consider any available alternatives to the statutory blight provisions.

Firstly, you may not qualify for ‘statutory blight’ and therefore have no other option. Secondly, there may be a better deal or advantages in exploring alternatives with the public authority compared to exercising your rights under the statutory blight provisions (see Part 2 of this article).

Each of these are discussed below:

1. Blight on non-qualifying land

As discussed in Part 1 of this article, not all land suffering from ‘blight’ qualifies within the legislation as ‘statutory blight’ and ‘blighted land’. Additionally, even if the land is ‘blighted land’, not all owners will meet the criteria which enables the right to serve a ‘blighted notice’ and thereafter force the early acquisition of your land.

For such non-qualifying land (e.g. blight by proximity), the public authority may nonetheless be willing to acquire the land by private agreement. Many public authorities publish guidance on their use of such discretionary powers. They particularly involve cases where there is doubt as to ‘statutory blight’ entitlements, together with personal hardship to the owner.

By example, Highways England has published guidance on when they exercise such discretion.

However, unlike the statutory blight provisions, it must be appreciated that additional compensation rights like the home loss payment and the payment of professional fees and disturbance are generally limited or do not apply.

2. Non-statutory blight schemes

It is not uncommon for large public infrastructure schemes to have their own non-statutory schemes which may offer varying benefits different to the statutory blight provisions. These should first be checked to ascertain if they are more favourable to the owner of land compared to serving a blight notice.

For example, Heathrow expansion offers an Interim Property Hardship Scheme with 25% uplift compared to the statutory 10% home loss. HS2 have an advance sale and rent back scheme as an alternative option.

Professional advice

It is important that you receive professional advice when considering your options for land suffering from ‘blight’, and follow the correct procedures when exercising rights for ‘statutory blight’. Buckles Solicitors will guide you through all aspects to ensure your rights are protected.