Campaign for fairness in compulsory purchase taken to Planning Minister
Published June 7th, 2016
Significant legal changes to make the system of compulsory purchase fairer were on the agenda when the CLA met Communities and Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis.
The meeting, which is an important milestone in the CLA’s long running campaign for reform of the cumbersome, outdated and deeply unfair system of compulsory purchase, was focused on the changes to be enacted in the Housing and Planning Bill which is entering the last phase of Parliamentary debate this month.
The most recent achievement is a new proposal that will require those acquiring land by compulsory purchase to pay a new penal rate of interest, to be set at eight per cent as suggested by the CLA, if they fail to pay the person from whom they acquire land on time.
CLA President Ross Murray said: “Our persistence on the issue of compulsory purchase reform has led to a series of breakthroughs. This most recent one on penalty rate of interest will end the practice of authorities acquiring land but failing to pay the affected business for many years. This is a very real problem that places the affected business under immediate financial pressure and makes it impossible to move on and rebuild lives and businesses.
“Our campaign is far from over, and that is our message to the Minister. There is still much to do to ensure the system of compulsory purchase is fairer and reduces the harm and distress it causes to farmers and other businesses. Our top priority is to secure a fundamental legal obligation that imposes a Duty of Care on those that acquire land through compulsory purchase. Only by putting in place this legal obligation, enforced by an independent ombudsman, will we see genuine fairness and efficiency introduced to the system.”
The CLA also has submitted a petition to the House of Lords as part of its ongoing work to ensure HS2 Ltd treats those who face disruption to their homes and business fairly and that they benefit from the right legal protections.
The Queen’s speech said the government intends to make the compulsory purchase order process clearer, fairer and faster for all those involved: “Including reform of the context within which compensation is negotiated – often a very significant and complex part of finalising a compulsory purchase deal. Our proposals, on which we have already consulted, would consolidate and clarify over 100 years of conflicting statute and case law. We would establish a clear, new statutory framework for agreeing compensation, based on the fundamental principle that compensation should be based on the market value of the land in the absence of the scheme underlying the compulsory purchase.