Obtaining or objecting to Compulsory Purchase Orders

Public bodies have a number of powers to force landowners to sell them land, or rights over land, where that land or right is needed to deliver projects such as new roads, tramways, railways, or new developments.

Compulsory Purchase takes a number of forms, the most common being a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) made pursuant to legislation such as section 226 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (a power to acquire land for development and other planning purposes) or s. 239 of the Highways Act 1980 (a power to acquire land for the construction or improvement of a highway). However, compulsory purchase powers are also commonly included in Development Consent Orders and Hybrid Bills that authorise major pieces of infrastructure, such as HS2.

As a general rule, CPO powers should only be used as a last resort where attempts to acquire the land or right by negotiation have failed. The acquiring public body is required to demonstrate a compelling public interest in the scheme for which the land is to be acquired which outweighs the land owner’s right to the peaceful enjoyment of their land.

You can object to a proposed CPO or to CPO provisions in a Development Consent Order / Hybrid Bill. In many cases, it is possible to have land excluded from the CPO provisions, or for the scope of the CPO, as it affects particular plots of land to be modified. You can also try to negotiate a better price for your property, or (by serving a blight notice) its early acquisition.

Where land or rights are acquired, the acquiring authority is required to pay compensation. Compensation is assessed as paid the current market value of the land or right (ignoring any impact on that value as a result of the proposed project), compensation for related issues, such as disturbance (i.e. the cost of moving out of your property), and any professional costs you incur in taking advice and negotiating the compensation package. Certain types of land also attract additional payments (such as the Home Loss payment). Where negotiating compensation, we strongly recommend seeking the advice of a Chartered CPO surveyor.

Our planning team have successfully advised both acquiring authorities on the use of their CPO powers and affected land owners on successful objection strategies including at public inquiries. We also regularly work together with Chartered CPO Surveyors when advising on compensation.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you receive any correspondence concerning the compulsory purchase of your property. Simply ignoring such correspondence may mean that you lose the opportunity to successfully object to a proposed CPO, to challenge a confirmed CPO in the Courts, or to claim compensation.