Compulsory Purchase Orders
Powers to acquire land and buildings compulsorily are almost entirely vested in public authorities which include Government Departments, Local Authorities, and Statutory Corporations such as the Environment Agency.
Within Hastings it is likely that any Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) will be initiated by the council and, although they can be used for a vast array of purposes, they are usually made for:
- Acquisition/Clearance of housing failing the statutory minimum standard - Housing Act 1985 (as amended)
- Development or Regeneration - Town and Country Planning Act 1990
- Local Road Schemes - Highways Act 1980
What is a Compulsory Purchase Order?
A CPO is a forced sale of a property to the Council, authorised by the Secretary of State. CPOs are an important tool for local authorities to use as a means of assembling the land needed to help deliver social and economic change. Used properly, they can contribute towards an effective urban regeneration and revitalisation of communities.
An integral part of the Council's Housing Strategy is to encourage and persuade owners of substandard properties to improve and return them to permanent residential use. This is achieved by a financial assistance programme, legislative powers and other incentives.
However, there will always be situations where owners of tenanted properties fail to comply with statutory notices, and owners of empty properties resist all encouragement to bring them back into residential use. In these circumstances the Council's only remaining option is to consider the use of compulsory purchase.
Government policy on CPOs is that they should be used as a last resort after the owner has been given every opportunity to carry out improvements voluntarily or in compliance with statutory notices.
There are major advantages to the community where compulsory purchase powers are used. The Council removes ownership of substandard properties from owners unwilling or unable to improve them to sell on to purchasers willing and able to do so. The transformation of badly managed, poor condition housing for residential use has a marked impact on local environment and the quality of life for neighbouring residents.
What is the procedure?
The basic outline of procedure for a CPO varies slightly depending on the legislation being used but is generally as follows:
* Objections are not always received to Compulsory Purchase Orders and, in such cases, Inquiries are not required.
Formulation involves justifying the proposals, as a CPO has to be shown to be more than just 'desirable'. Title and boundary investigations, selection of the correct legislation and negotiations with owners to acquire by agreement all take place before a resolution to make a CPO is obtained.
The Order is submitted to the relevant Secretary of State and if objections are made, a Public Local Inquiry will be held by an Inspector who will report his/her findings and recommendations to the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State's decision will be:
- To confirm the Order
- To reject the Order
- To confirm the Order with modification
If the Order is confirmed or confirmed with modification, the Council proceeds to take possession of the land, which takes a minimum of three to twelve months. Once the land becomes vested in the Council, anyone holding legal title to any of the CPO land will then have his or her interest transferred into an interest in compensation.