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If the government wants to take your home for new development, it has the right to do so under a Compulsory Purchase Order. This order allows certain bodies the right to obtain land or property without an owner's consent. Compulsory Purchase Orders are usually used to help build infrastructure projects, such as roads, rail links, and airports.

If you receive a CPO, it’s essential to understand your rights. You might not be able to stop the acquisition of your property, but knowing where you stand under the law will help you negotiate terms that are fair for everyone involved.

CPOs are not implemented immediately—they are just one step in a long process that can take years to complete. Many CPOs are never actually used.

Today, let's explore everything you need to know about compulsory purchase orders. If you're curious to learn more about it, read on now.

How Does a Compulsory Purchase Order Work?

Under the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act of 1845, the government can use its power of eminent domain to legally acquire land for public use, such as a road, public space, or public building.

To get the ball rolling, a government body (such as the local council or a national government department) must put forward a development proposal that includes land owned by someone else.

If the local authority decides that they want your property, they will issue a CPO to the landowner. This order is mandatory, so you must comply or face very punitive consequences.

You may also receive a notice of intent to acquire your land. This notice includes a draft CPO, and you will be allowed to make submissions to the organisation issuing the notice.

This notice is not mandatory, but the local authority will usually send a copy of the draft CPO after you receive this notice.

What Does ‘Compelling Case in the Public Interest’ Mean?

The public interest means the public good. In other words, the government must show that the project is beneficial to the public.

The organisation proposing to issue a CPO must show that their intention to give one has merit to the local community. This means that the council has to prove that the project is for the good of everyone.

For example, if the local council wants to build a bypass to relieve traffic congestion in your town, this will be considered in the public interest.

However, if the council wants to build a bypass to facilitate more accessible access to an industrial estate, then it's unlikely that this would be considered in the public interest. Local opposition might also indicate whether the project is in the public interest.

The Three Levels of Public Interest

Not all projects need to be in the public interest to meet the requirements of the law. There are three levels of public interest, and each level demands a higher standard of evidence that the project is beneficial to the public as a whole.

There is a sliding-scale approach to the definition of public interest. The more significant the project, the higher the standard of evidence that must be met to prove that the project is in the public’s interest.

1. National Importance

If the project is of national importance, which is rare, the government should show a substantial national benefit to the project. This high threshold means that only large-scale projects with significant benefits to the whole country will be considered for a CPO.

For example, if the government was building a new airport that would be used by thousands of people every year, this would be considered of national importance and would be eligible for a CPO.

2. Regional Importance

If the project is of regional importance, which is still very rare, the government should show that the project benefits the local region. This will involve a larger scale project than a project of local importance.

For example, if a new bypass was to be built in a region, and it would save businesses in the region thousands of pounds per year, this would be considered of regional importance and would be eligible for a CPO.

3. Local Importance

If the project is of local importance, then the project needs to be beneficial to the local community. This is the lowest standard of proof, and very few projects are deemed of local importance.

For example, if the council wanted to build a bus shelter near your home, this would only be considered of local importance and would not be eligible for a CPO.

Who Can Make a Compulsory Purchase Order?

A public body can make a CPO. This includes local councils, government agencies, police forces, and the armed forces.

The body that makes the order is called the ‘authority’ in the order.

The authority must:

  • Be a public body

  • Have statutory powers

  • Be authorised to make compulsory purchases

  • Need a compulsory purchase order to implement their project

In addition to a compulsory purchase order, the authority can also issue a notice of intent to acquire the land to the landowner. This notice is not mandatory, but the landowner should expect the notice to be sent after the authority receives their draft order.

The notice of intent to acquire the land is not a legal document and does not give the landowner the right to challenge the compulsory purchase order. In other words, the notice of intent to acquire the land is a warning that the landowner may soon have to move out.

How Much Do They Have To Pay Me For My Home?

As a general rule, the landowner should be paid the amount that the land was worth when the CPO issue was made. The local authority may ask for your opinion on the market value of your home, and they might ask for a valuation from an independent professional.

The valuation will be in the market value of the land and not the market value of your home. The government doesn't have to pay you a penny if they're taking your home. They will also have to pay you 12 per cent interest on the market value of your home.

Under the Property Act, the authority can't take your home if they don't offer you the market value. If the authority doesn't try to negotiate with you beforehand, the CPO will be invalid and invalid.

What Happens If I Don't Want To Sell?

If the government wants to acquire your property, they can use compulsory purchase orders to give them the power.

However, keep in mind that compulsory purchase orders are not immediate—they are just one step in a long process that can take years to complete. The authority will need to go through many legal procedures before taking you home.

In addition, using compulsory purchase orders is a costly and slow process, which means that they are not used often. Local authorities will often use other methods, such as negotiation and persuasion, to acquire your property.?

The Bottom Line

Compulsory purchase orders are a legal and valid way for the government to acquire your property. However, a public body will have to go through many legal procedures before they can take your home.

This process can take a long time, so most authorities will use negotiation and persuasion to acquire your property. That being said, compulsory purchase orders are a valid way for the government to acquire your property—don't underestimate the power of law.

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