What is a Compulsory Purchase Order?

Author:
Sarah Ryan
Head of Property, Licensed Conveyancer
Date:
08/04/2019

A Compulsory Purchase Order gives the Local Authority / Council legal power to require the owner of a property or land to sell it to the Local Authority.

Although there are a number of reasons why a Local Authority can compulsorily acquire property or land, the main reason still relates to the property on the land failing to meet the minimum requirements for living. That means it can make way for better housing or some development that’s essential or beneficial to the area.

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Compulsory Purchase Order Process

Generally speaking, the Local Authority has to go through a process involving a number of statutory requirements before it can serve the Compulsory Purchase Order on the owner of the land. That will normally involve a Public Hearing to enable interested parties to air their views and, if they so wish, object to the proposal of a Compulsory Purchase Order.

The Local Authority must show that it’s acting fairly and reasonably and that it’s acting within its powers and not abusing judicial process.

The owner of land affected by a Compulsory Purchase Order proposal is entitled, at the Council’s expense, to appoint a qualified person (normally a Surveyor) to act on their behalf in negotiating the price for the property and the disturbance value - a figure given to cover the inconvenience and expenses incurred in complying with the Compulsory Purchase Order, including legal fees incurred by the land owner. 

The Council is normally represented by the District Valuer, although many Councils appoint private firms to act on their behalf.

If the owner of the land isn’t known or cannot be traced the Council have power to vest the land in themselves. This generally takes care of little pockets of land that cannot be dealt with in the normal way.

Compulsory Purchase Orders were first implemented on a large scale back in the 1960s, when the inner cities went through a period of large slum clearance. 

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