Planning And Compulsory Purchase

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Major projects, planning and compulsory purchase

There is legislation in place to enable the compulsory purchase of properties in certain circumstances to facilitate developments for which planning permission has been granted. The most common usage of these orders is to permit the completion of major infrastructural projects.

Infrastructure projects and compulsory purchase

For example, as the population started growing rapidly after the Second World War, the authorities realised that measures were necessary to ensure that the major cities had an adequate water supply. Several reservoirs were created by building dams, but this entailed flooding some villages and individual homesteads. The properties of the residents in those areas were compulsorily purchased in many cases.

In The Public Interest

The Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 introduced major changes to the law relating to these important matters. Generally speaking, compulsory purchase orders are issued only when proposed developments are deemed to be in the public interest. They are used to facilitate the development of roads, motorways, railways, and so on. The onus is on the local authority show that the proposed purchase is necessary.

Property owners who have been issued with compulsory purchase orders are entitled to compensation. When residential homes are involved, the issuing local authority will normally be obliged to compensate the owners sufficiently to enable to them to move into new homes. The compensation package will often include allowances for the cost of moving homes, and coverage for the cost of professional and legal advice.

Limited Lifetime

Compulsory purchase orders are not indefinite, and the rights granted under them must be exercised within three years from the date the order is published. If not, the local authority will need to reapply for a new order.

However, there are two types of order, one known as a Notice to Treat, and the other known as a General Vesting Declaration. These types have some substantial differences, and the actual time limit may be open to dispute depending on which type has been issued. If a local authority fails to exercise the rights attained under the compulsory purchase order, the property owners may be entitled to compensation whilst still retaining the property.

Limiting The Stress

Compulsory purchase orders can be very stressful for property owners, and there may be a strong inclination to seek to have the order overturned. The problem is that the chances of that happening are very slight, and efforts to do so could just add to the overall stress level. Professional legal advice is required before undertaking any such action.

People who are planning to buy a new property can protect themselves to some extent against the possible future issue of compulsory purchase orders. All local authorities publish long term development plans well in advance, and it may be worth checking with the relevant local authority to see if any major infrastructural projects are being considered.

Getting Legal Advice

If you are issued with a compulsory purchase order, or you suspect you may get one as a result of new planning applications or approvals, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible to determine if you are likely to be able to take successful legal action to have the order overturned.

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Further resources:

Full descriptions of my services that relate to this can be found here: Building & Construction problems or Mediation and Arbitration Services
You can find more general information on civil law (common law) on the Wikipedia Civil Law page
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Contact Information

We wholeheartedly welcome you to contact us regarding any legally related issues or concerns. We're easy to talk with and will very quickly steer you in the right direction.

Stewart Patterson
Barrister, Mediator & Arbitrator

Pump Court Chambers,
31 Southgate Street,
SO23 9EB
Tel: 01962 690061
Fax: 0845 259 3240
DX: 2514 Winchester