News surfaced this week in England that higher level of landowners will be forced to sell their homes to the government under compulsory purchase orders. These warning words came to attention by the CLA or Country Land & Business Association following the announcement of massive infrastructure projects set for the country.
If you don’t already know, a compulsory purchase order or CPO is when the governing body deems the land is needed for the greater good of the community so they then buy the land, which forces the owner to sell their land or home.
At the beginning of the year, a major announcement in that the HS2 project was given the go-ahead was unveiled. Despite this grabbing the headlines, little was mentioned about the additional works to the East-West Rail line and the new Oxford to Cambridge Expressway, which means the amount of compulsory purchases orders will more than double. A study of the new plans caused the CLA to take a full review of the consequences. Robin Edwards, a CLA official said that they have growing concerns over land becoming ‘blighted’. He went on to say, this “means it will be harder to sell, certainly whilst the construction is going on… Often, though, we find once a construction project is done, house prices and land prices go back to how they were before. Therefore, I think what puts people off is the fear of the unknown.”
Andrew Shirley, the chief surveyor of the CLA spoke of how owners should be cautious of the rising threat of CPO’s from different types of development, including housing and utilities as well as infrastructure. Mr Shirley stated, “Compulsory purchase is still too often seen as a cheap deal and needs further reform. Rural land is not spare land, it has significant value, and needs appropriate compensation. Lobbying efforts by the CLA have resulted in a number of significant gains, including an assurance that HS2 Ltd will not acquire land permanently that it only requires temporarily. Despite given HS2 compensation, there is more to be done to create a fairer system.”
One of the most common problems during CPO is the lack of knowledge landowners have about this process. Often the first thought of an owner is to object to the proposed moves and complain regards not wanting to move or if the compensation amounts aren’t enough. This is not an effective strategy or attempt to get the outcome you want. As a result, landowners are being urged to be fully aware of their grounds for objection. These reasons include, that there is not a compelling case in the public interest for compulsory acquisition, better alternatives, the acquisition is unnecessary, environmental and construction impacts, planning issues, EIA defects or habitats that may be affected. With properly raised legal points to fight back with, owners face a much more successful outcome and often gain improved leverage for negotiations.
Specialists in CPO compensation on reflection of this news stated that they believe CPO amounts could triple in rural areas over the next couple of years due to proposed plans. Comments on how Brexit has been the resounding cause for the mass infrastructure investment over the next few years and that the current emphasis of the outdated compensation framework is on powers, not property rights and this needs to change.