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What is a Compulsory Purchase Order?

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A compulsory purchase order (CPO) is a legal process. It allows councils or the government, to purchase privately-owned land or property without the owner’s consent. CPOs are typically used for public benefit, such as building new infrastructure or regenerating areas. They are usually considered a last resort if negotiations with the home or landowner have failed.

We look at CPOs what they are and how they are used in the UK.

Why do we have compulsory purchase orders?

Compulsory purchase orders can be controversial and are often emotionally charged. However, they can be an important tool for delivering public projects like, for example high speed 2 (HS2) or Crossrail.

They are used to acquire land for a variety of purposes. These include building new infrastructure, regenerating run-down areas, and creating new public amenities such as parks, hospitals, and schools.

However, CPOs can have a significant impact on the owners and occupants of the affected properties.

For this reason, authorities must ensure that they follow the correct legal process and offer fair compensation for the land. They should also seek to engage with affected parties as early as possible to discuss alternative options and mitigate any negative impacts.

What starts the process for a compulsory purchase order?

The CPO process starts with the relevant authority identifying a piece of land or property that they wish to purchase.

Notice is then served to the owner and anyone with an interest in the land. The notice states their intention to acquire the property as well as details of why the land is needed and how much the authority is willing to offer.

Compulsory purchase order compensation?

The amount of compensation you receive will depend on a variety of factors. This includes the value of your property, the nature of the public project, and the impact of the acquisition on your personal and / or business interests.

Under UK law, the amount of compensation you receive should reflect the market value of your property at the time of acquisition.

Meaning you should be paid an amount equivalent to what you could have received if the property was sold on the open market.

Compensation may also include additional costs and expenses that you have incurred as a result of the acquisition. This includes legal fees, surveyors’ fees, and relocation costs. The government or public authority may also offer you alternative accommodation or business premises if your current property or business is affected by the acquisition.

Can I negotiate a compulsory purchase order?

The government or public authority has a duty to negotiate with you in good faith. And to ensure that you receive fair and reasonable compensation for your property.

If you are not satisfied with the compensation offer, you have the right to challenge it through the Lands Tribunal. This is an independent body that hears disputes between property owners and acquiring authorities.

Can I refuse a compulsory purchase order?

You do have the right to object to the CPO. Your objection will be considered by an independent inspector appointed by the Secretary of State.

The inspector will hold a public inquiry to gather evidence and hear arguments from all sides before making a recommendation to the Secretary of State. It is the Secretary of State who will then make the final decision on whether to confirm or reject the CPO.

If the compulsory purchase order is confirmed, you will be required to sell your land or property to the authority at the agreed price. The authority can then apply to the courts to force the sale if you do not agree.

Getting the right legal advice if you’ve received a CPO, or expecting one, is essential. If you need help finding the right legal advice we can help.

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Last Updated: January 19th, 2024

Phil Spencer

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