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Compulsory Purchase Order Advice

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29 December, 23
The solicitor who was appointed to me was outstanding
Very simple to engage with instant confirmation in writing straight after. Daniel, the solicitor who was appointed to me, was outstanding in his approach, his understanding of the technicalities of the law and, crucially, a genuine care for the client. Would definitely advise using Lawhive, you won't regret it.
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04 October, 23
We were so pleased to find the Lawhive website
After struggling to find a solicitor willing to give us advice, and for a reasonable cost, we were so pleased to find the Lawhive website. At first we wondered how well it would work, but needn't have worried at all - the whole process was simple, straightforward and professional and great value for money. We felt extremely lucky to be matched with our solicitor, Sonay Erten, as she was exactly what we were looking for - knowledgeable, patient and kind - a refreshing change from solicitors we have used in the past. She showed a great deal of empathy for our situation and explained things in language that was easy to understand (rather than the usual "solicitor" talk, which can be intimidating). She's a shining example of what a solicitor should aspire to be and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend her to others or use her again in the future. We came out of our session reassured and confident of what we needed to do going forward, so a big "thank you!"
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I found the website very easy to use. Quick responses and I was even able to talk to someone who was friendly and competent. She rang me rather than emailed me. A solicitor was quickly found who could help me and once the relevant identification was approved he started work. Within two days the solicitor had checked documents and commented on them. Very efficient! Can highly recommend.
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About

A Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) is a legal order issued by a government authority to purchase land or property. A CPO can be issued for a number of reasons, including the construction of a new road or railway. Solicitors can ensure that the process is carried out correctly or that as a landowner you are fairly compensated.Next steps

How much does help with Compulsory Purchase Order Advice cost?

The cost for a licensed solicitor to help with Compulsory Purchase Order Advice is dependent on many factors including the complexity and specific requirements of the case. On average it is expected to range from £80-£140 but in some cases it could cost as much as £200.

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Development, infrastructure, and regeneration are important to our nation's growth, providing better housing, job opportunities, and community facilities. Compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) form part of this process, giving authorities the power to legally acquire land for public projects.

While compulsory purchase can lead to positive changes, it can also be distressing to learn that your land will be taken.

At Lawhive, our network of property solicitors can clarify your rights concerning a Compulsory Purchase Order, assess the validity of the CPO, negotiate compensation on your behalf, and even challenge the CPO if necessary.

Contact our Legal Assessment Team today for a free case evaluation.

What is a Compulsory Purchase Order?

A compulsory purchase order (CPO) is a legal way for certain authorities (known as acquiring authorities), such as local councils or government bodies, to acquire land without the owner's agreement.

CPOs are typically used for public projects seen to be in the public interest, like building roads, railways, infrastructure, urban renewal, or housing developments.

When a CPO is issued, the authority intends to acquire the land, and the owner is legally required to sell it, even if they don't want to.

The CPO outlines the proposed acquisition, including the intended use of the land or property and compensation offered to the owner.

Although a CPO gives the authority the power to acquire land, it doesn't guarantee acquisition. Landowners can object to a CPO and challenge its validity. They can also negotiate for better terms or compensation for allowing the acquisition to go ahead.

What are the consequences of a CPO?

For land or property owners

For land or property owners, the main consequence of a CPO is that they are legally required to sell their land or property to the authority issuing the CPO even if they don't want to. This means they lose ownership and control over their land or property.

As you may imagine, compulsory acquisition can be disruptive and stressful for affected landowners, especially if they are faced with the prospect of relocation or their livelihoods being affected.

However, it is important to know there is compensation available to landowners. They are entitled to compensation for the loss of their land or property. The amount of compensation is calculated based on the market value of the land or property, any loss of value caused by the development project, and any disturbance or inconvenience suffered by the owner.

For those involved in development projects

For those involved in development projects, a CPO allows the authority to gather the necessary land or property for the project to go smoothly.

Challenges to the CPO or ongoing negotiations with affected landowners, however, can lead to delays in the development project, potentially impacting timelines and budget.

Moreover, landowners affected by the CPO may challenge its validity or seek higher compensation through legal routes, ending with additional costs and delays to the project.

CPOs and the law

CPOs are mainly governed by the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (TCPA 1990) and the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004.

These laws lay out how CPOs are issued and implemented, as well as the rights and duties of those involved.

Who can issue CPOs?

Acts of Parliament decide which organisations have the power to make CPOs and under what circumstances. However, to use these powers acquiring authorities must first create a CPO, which has to be confirmed by the confirming authority, which could be:

  • The relevant government minister (or Welsh minister);

  • An inspector chosen by the minister to decide on their behalf.

Public authorities, like local councils, certain statutory bodies, or government departments, can issue CPOs for projects deemed to benefit the public, like infrastructure, regeneration, or housing developments.

How are compulsory purchase powers used?

Various organisations have compulsory purchase powers. For example, local councils use them for housing projects and utility companies use them for infrastructure projects.

How are CPOs issued?

The decision to issue a CPO is made by the relevant public authority responsible for the project. Usually, they'll check if they need to buy land and ask for feedback on their plans through consultations.

The law requires a transparent process for issuing CPOs, including public consultation, a Statement of Reasons explaining why the CPO is needed, consideration of objections, and approval from the relevant authority.

Decisions made by public authorities about CPOs are subject to judicial review by the courts. This means that affected parties can challenge the lawfulness of the decision-making process, such as any procedural irregularities or errors of law, before a judge.

Additionally, the compulsory acquisition of property through a CPO engaged the human right to property under Article 1 of Protocol 1 of the European Convention of Human Rights.

This means that public authorities must make sure compulsory acquisition is proportionate and affected parties are adequately compensated for the loss of their property rights.

What does ‘compelling case in the public interest’ mean?

When a public authority seeks to acquire land or property through a Compulsory Purchase Order they must demonstrate a 'compelling case in the public interest.' This means showing that the proposed project or development serves a significant public benefit that outweighs individual property rights.

Criteria for establishing a compelling case

To establish a compelling case, the public authority must demonstrate that the proposed projects meet specific criteria, including:

  • Addressing pressing community needs like housing shortages or transportation issues;

  • Providing essential public services such as schools or hospitals;

  • Promoting economic growth, job creation, or revitalising deprived areas;

  • Enhancing environmental sustainability or protecting natural resources;

  • Improving public safety, transportation, efficiency, or accessibility.

The decision on whether a case is compelling in the public interest faces legal review to make sure it's fair. It weighs the project's benefits against how it affects people. Authorities must explain their decisions clearly and treat everyone fairly during the process.

Compulsory purchase process

  1. The acquiring authority evaluates if they need land to complete a project they're promoting and how much land they might need.

  2. The acquiring authority and landowner discuss the matter and try to agree on the purchase of the land.

  3. If discussions fail, the acquiring authority decides to use compulsory purchase powers and makes the Compulsory Purchase Order.

  4. The CPO is made public and it's sent to the confirming authority for approval.

  5. People affected by the CPO are asked to send their objections to the confirming authority.

  6. The confirming authority looks at the CPO through a public inquiry or by reviewing written statements from involved parties and decides whether to confirm, change, or reject it.

  7. Once the CPO is confirmed, the acquiring authority takes ownership of the land.

Types of notice for land acquisition

Acquiring authorities can get land by serving two notices: a notice to treat and a notice of entry. Both notices can be served at the same time in some cases.

Notice to Treat

A notice to treat must:

  • Specify the land it applies to;

  • Ask for details about the recipient's interests and rights in the land;

  • Say that the acquiring authority is willing to negotiate for the land and pay compensation;

  • Request the recipient's claim regarding the land within a specific period, usually 21 days.

A notice to treat must be served within three years of the CPO confirmation notice being published in a newspaper. If there's a legal challenge against the CPO, this period could be extended by up to one year.

If you receive a notice to treat, it's important to answer the questions it asks and submit a notice of claim for compensation to the acquiring authority. The notice of claim doesn't have a specific format, but it must be written and you'll need to provide evidence of your interest in the land, such as title deeds or a lease. A solicitor can help you complete a notice of claim.

The authority can withdraw the notice to treat within six weeks of receiving a claim, but they might still have to pay compensation for any losses you've suffered.

How to deal with a CPO

If your property or land is affected by a compulsory purchase order, you should first speak to a property solicitor experienced in land acquisitions. They can clearly explain your rights, what you need to do, and your choices during the CPO process.

If you get a notice about the CPO, read it carefully and note the deadlines for responding.

If you believe the CPO isn't fair or hasn't considered your interests properly, you might be able to challenge it legally. Your solicitor can help you decide if your objections are valid and what steps to take, whether through negotiation or legal action.

In many cases, homeowners affected by a CPO are entitled to compensation for losing their property or any decrease in its value. Your solicitor can help you negotiate fair compensation terms, considering factors like market value and relocation costs.

If objections aren't resolved through negotiation, they might go to hearings or public inquiries. However, you might look at other ways to resolve the CPO, like a voluntary agreement with the authority or finding other ways to minimise the impact of a project on your property.

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Can I object to a CPO?

If you're a property owner or occupant affected by a Compulsory Purchase Order, you can object to it if you think it's unfair or if it affects your property rights.

Objecting means formally challenging the decision through a legal process where you present your objections to the authority or government body responsible for the CPO.

On what grounds can I object to a CPO?

Common grounds for objection to a CPO include:

  1. Arguing that the acquisition isn't necessary for the project it's intended for;

  2. Disputing whether the project truly serves the public interest or if there are better alternatives;

  3. Objecting that you weren't properly informed or consulted about the acquisition, or your concerns weren't considered;

  4. Arguing that the impact on your property rights is too severe compared to the benefits of the acquisition;

  5. Proposing other ways to achieve the project's goals with less impact on your property;

  6. Challenging the compensation offered, arguing that it doesn't cover the true value of your property or losses;

  7. Objecting based on legal issues, like procedural errors or failure to follow the law.

If you're considering objecting to a CPO, consider seeking legal advice to help you present your objections effectively.

Can I challenge a CPO in Court?

If you believe a Compulsory Purchase Order is unfair, you can take it to court.

Challenging a CPO means starting a legal process called judicial review. This means asking the courts to check if the CPO decision was fair and followed the law.

What do you need to do?

To challenge a CPO in court, you'll need to file a claim for judicial review in the right court, like the Administrative or Planning Court.

In your claim, explain why you think the CPO is wrong and provide evidence to support your points. Your reasons for challenging the CPO in court are similar to the objections you'd make during the consultation process.

Do public bodies have to negotiate with me to buy my home? 

Public bodies should talk to property owners before taking their land or homes through compulsory purchase. Negotiation is the preferred way to agree on fair terms for selling property needed for public projects.

Public bodies must follow legal rules when negotiating with property owners. This includes giving information about why they need the property, offering reasonable compensation, and giving property owners enough time to consider offers.

Negotiation might include making fair offers to buy the property, discussing the terms and compensation, and addressing any worries or objections from property owners.

If talks don't work out or property owners won't sell at fair terms, public bodies can use compulsory purchase powers as a last resort. This happens when they can't agree and when taking the property is in the public interest.

Do I have to negotiate with public bodies?

Property owners don't have to negotiate with public bodies trying to acquire their land or property through compulsory purchase.

However, negotiating with them can often help reach a fair agreement and ensure you get proper compensation for your property.

If you decide not to negotiate or refuse to sell your property, public bodies can still go ahead with compulsory purchase. They'll do this if they believe it's necessary for a public project and if negotiations haven't worked out.

How much compensation will I get for selling my home under a CPO?

The main idea behind compulsory purchase compensation is that people whose land is taken should end up in the same financial position they were in before.

How much you might get for selling your home or property under a compulsory purchase order depends on:

Market value

Compensation should reflect the market value of your property as determined by an independent valuer (usually chosen by the acquiring authority).

They'll assess what your property would sell for on the open market.

Special value

If your property has any unique value to you that isn't reflected in its market value, this may also be considered in the compensation amount.

Disturbance compensation

This covers expenses linked to moving, like moving fees, solicitors fees, legal costs, and other responsible expenses incurred because of having to leave your property.

Home loss payment

Some property owners may be eligible for a one-time home loss payment to make up for losing their home. The amount of this usually follows set rules and might come with special conditions.

Having said this, if you're affected by a CPO, you're expected to take reasonable steps to lessen or avoid your losses. For example, if you need to rent a van for moving, you should get quotes from at least two reputable companies. Choosing the cheapest one, assuming they offer the same service as others, would be a way to reduce your loss.

Aren’t CPOs unfair?

Opinions on compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) vary widely, sparking ongoing discussions about their fairness and justification.

For property owners, being subject to a CPO can feel like a violation of their ownership rights. This sentiment is particularly strong when the property holds sentimental value or has been in the family for generations. Despite concerns, however, CPOs can play an important role in development and regeneration efforts. They enable projects aimed at addressing housing shortages, revitalising communities, and boosting economic growth by creating jobs and attracting businesses. While powerful, CPOs must be used responsibly. Authorities must follow the legal requirements, ensuring affected property owners are treated fairly and compensated adequately for their loss.

What are public inquiries for CPOs?

Public inquiries for compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) are formal proceedings overseen by an independent inspector appointed by the government to assess objections and representations regarding the proposed CPO.

These inquiries give affected parties, including property owners, tenants, and other stakeholders, an opportunity to voice their concerns, present evidence, and challenge the CPO decision-making process.

Can I get my money back for hiring a property solicitor?

If you object to a Compulsory Purchase Order and you need to hire a professional adviser, like a solicitor, you'll have to pay those costs yourself.

However, if your objection is successful and the CPO isn't confirmed or your land isn't included in it, you can ask for reasonable costs back and, normally, these costs will be reimbursed unless there's good reason not to. These costs are paid by the acquiring authority.

If you partly succeed in objecting (e.g. only part of your land is excluded from the CPO), you can still get back the reasonable costs relating to that part of your objection.

Once the CPO is confirmed and put into action, you can usually reclaim the money you spent on professional fees for preparing and discussing your compensation claim.

How can Lawhive help?

Here at Lawhive, our experienced solicitors can offer you expert legal advice and guidance on all aspects of the CPO process, including your rights as an affected party, potential grounds for objection, negotiation strategies, and options for challenging the CPO decision. Get in touch today for a free case assessment. 

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