Compulsory Purchase Order: know your rights

20th December 2018

Rural Practice Surveyor, Caroline Horn, talks around Compulsory Purchase and knowing your rights in case the Acquiring Authority knocks on you door…

Compulsory Purchase Order’s allow public bodies to force property owners to give up their property if it obstructs a development project which is for the greater public good.

It seems we are forever driving through 50mph zones on the motorway which is frustrating whilst the project is being built, however, the project should benefit everyone in the longer term. Are Landowners really prepared for when Highways England wants to acquire their land? I have the perception that a lot of property owners, or occupiers, do not fully understand their rights when an Acquiring Authority knocks on their door wishing to carry out surveys, or to acquire their land.

The frequent scenario I come across is that the Landowner, out of their good faith, has allowed the Acquiring Authority to come onto their land and carry out surveys, or has agreed to the Acquiring Authority initial proposals. This is usually where the Acquiring Authority promises to carry out beneficial work to the landowner, such as tarmacing their driveway or installing a new access, if the Landowner does not object to the scheme or allows them early access. In reality these are just verbal promises that never seem to materialise.

Having detailed records and agreements in place from the start is key to ensuring you are compensated accordingly; a professional adviser can ensure this is executed properly.

We all want the benefits of an improved road network but do you really want a roundabout or an electricity pylon in your best harvest field… There are several points through the whole Compulsory Purchase Order process that a Landlord or third party can object to, or raise any queries they have with the proposed project, however, to get the most out of these opportunities it is important an advisor is instructed who can effectively put the case forward, whether this is influencing the route of the project or objecting to the scheme as a whole.

If the Compulsory Purchase Order is approved and it does affect your land, you are entitled to be no worse off than you were before the Compulsory Purchase Order took effect, but equally you should not be any better off.

If you are a landowner and have had land taken by a scheme, you could claim:

  • The value of the land lost;
  • Any devaluation on the rest of your farm, including house and buildings, due the highway now being in close proximity;
  • The loss in value due to the new highway now splitting your ring fence farm into two separate blocks;
  • Any disturbance incurred throughout the process such as burst water pipes, damage to drainage pipes and your time involved in dealing with the project.

It is therefore important to keep a diary of your time and events to ensure you are fully compensated, although as some would say are you ever fully compensated when a large pylon has been placed in the middle of your harvest field…

Although you don’t legally have the right to accommodation works, these can be used to reinstate you and to mitigate the overall compensation payable to you.

It is also important to remember occupiers of land and other affected people also have rights to compensation, and they too should take advice early.

If you are affected by a Compulsory Purchase Order you will receive 90% of the compensation after a notice to treat is served, and the remaining 10% will be payable upon completion of the job. Affected people are eligible for interest on any outstanding balance of compensation. This is set at 0.5% below the base rate and up until recently, with the base rate has being 0.5%, it has meant interest is payable at 0%. Some would say the Acquiring Authority is loaning free money, although as the base rate has now increased above 0.5% there is a small amount of interest payable….

If you are concerned about a proposed development or road scheme, act early and speak to a professional advisor. Call your local expert:

Northumberland and Borders: 01665 603231
County Durham: 01388 527966
Yorkshire: 01677 425301

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