Compulsory Purchase Order Process

The Compulsory Purchase Order process is made up of a number of stages.  However, it is only when the Compulsory  Purchase Order (CPO) has been confirmed by the Confirming Authority, usually the Secretary of State, does an Acquiring Authority have the powers to compulsorily purchase your property.  The process leading up to confirmation (Stage 5) can take between 12 and 18 months.

Below is a brief summary of each stage running up to a Public Inquiry made by an Acquiring Authority:

Stage 1: Formulation

The Acquiring Authority (AA) decide that land is required for a particular purpose or Scheme and that they are prepared to use CPO powers to assist in achieving this. Boundaries are defined and information is gathered

This stage is essentially an information-gathering exercise but as part of the process, the AA may decide to enter into early negotiations with land owners.  Ultimately a Compulsory Purchase Order is an acquisition by last resort and therefore the AA must demonstrate that it has exhausted all other avenues to purchase the land.

Stage 2: Resolution

A formal resolution is made to use compulsory purchase powers.  If the Compulsory Purchase Order is to be made by a Local Council the Council Executive or appropriate Executive Committee will consider the recommendation to use Compulsory Purchase Order powers and ultimately grant the resolution to use these powers.

Stage 3: Referencing

This stage builds upon the initial information gathering done in Stage 1, recording ownership and occupational details of the land so as to identify all parties with a legal interest or right to occupy the required land.

Stage 4: Making the Compulsory Purchase Order

Once the referencing has been completed, the AA will make the CPO.  The main body of the Order will contain details of the Act authorising the acquisition and the purpose for which the CPO is being made.

When making the Order the Authority will also prepare a Statement of Reasons.  The Statement of Reasons will demonstrate that the proposed Scheme and consequently the CPO is in the public interest and will deliver social, environment and economic well-being.  These are the criteria upon which a CPO is judged.

Notices will be served on all owners, leaseholders, tenants and occupiers of affected land as well as any party who may have the right to claim compensation because they own rights which will be interfered with or the value of their land will/may be reduced as a result of works carried out.

Within these notices the Authority will specify a time within which objections to the CPO can be made.  This must be at least 21 days but tends to be extended to 28 days from the date the notice is published. A single statutory objection this will trigger a Public Inquiry.

Stage 5: Public Inquiry

If valid objections are received, a Public Local Inquiry will be scheduled and heard by a Planning Inspector.  Not later than six weeks after a given date the AA must serve a Statement of Case on the Minister and each remaining objector. This sets out the case to be put forward at the inquiry and justifies the reasons for making the Compulsory Purchase Order. Copies of all documents referred to in the Statement of Case must be attached, together with a list of any documents which the council intends to refer at the inquiry.

As an alternative to an inquiry, objections can be considered by the Planning Inspector through the written representations procedure.

Objectors can present their own evidence to the Inquiry in support of their objection.  The Inquiry will hear the evidence from all parties concerned before the Inspector closes the Inquiry to consider the decision.

Stage 6: Post Inquiry

Following the Inquiry the Inspector prepares a report which is then considered by the Secretary of State, or Confirming Minister for approval or otherwise. The report will make a recommendation regarding the proposed Compulsory Purchase Order.  The Secretary of State will then confirm the Order, possibly with modifications or reject the proposed CPO.

If confirmed (with or without modifications) then CPO powers will be confirmed or granted to the AA, who then have a period of 3 years within which to execute the Order.