As part of the Budget 2015 the Treasury and Communities and Local Government (CLG) have published a technical consultation document for improving the compulsory purchase system. It principally relates to process and not the assessment of compensation.
CLG have also issued a consultation draft of the Guidance to replace the now somewhat out of date Circular 06/04, the practitioners' "bible" when promoting CPOs.
Perhaps most noteworthy is the publication of the technical consultation document is by both CLG and the Treasury. It indicates that compulsory purchase is seen by Government as a key tool in the economic recovery of the UK, in delivering both regeneration and major infrastructure.
Compulsory purchase has been for many years low on the priorities list for law reform. This is despite a major report at the end of the 1990's, then the Law Commission's reports in 2003 and 2004 recommending wholesale codification. Subsequently Acts have played at the edges of a few topics, whilst the Planning Act 2008 led to a fundamental and successful change in how land assembly for nationally significant infrastructure projects is taken forward. Much of the successes of the 2008 Act are reflected in the consultation paper.
Many will see the consultation paper as an unsatisfactory "halfway house" lying somewhere between the recent practice of minor incremental change, but falling far short of the fundamental codification that many practitioners believe is required.
The consultation is sure to attract a lot of attention and contain several items of controversy. For further information, please read our Technical Consultation and Improvement to Compulsory Purchase Process review.
Overall, the fact that compulsory purchase is receiving significant attention is to be welcomed. However, many of the issues highlighted by, amongst others, the Compulsory Purchase Association, remain to be dealt with, whilst some of the suggestions in the documentation, whilst well intentioned, may not assist in making the compulsory purchase regime clearer, fairer and faster as the Government anticipates.
It is important that those utilising, and being subject to compulsory purchase, provide their views to Government to truly make the process one of improvement. Those views need to be submitted before 9 June 2015.