The threat of compulsory purchase can be very unsettling but there are steps individuals, companies and institutional landowners can take to prepare for a compulsory purchase order (CPO).
Companies, institutional landowners and individuals will often become aware of major redevelopment proposals likely to impact their land, business and/or home some time before any formal CPO notices are served. In these circumstances (and indeed at whatever point you become aware of a pending CPO) there are a number of steps that can be taken in readiness that may assist your case going forward and give you the best chance of a securing a swift resolution and fair compensation.
1. Keep the planning process under review
If the proposals have not yet been granted planning permission, there is an opportunity to voice your concerns through the application procedure. That might take the form of an objection or a representation highlighting specific concerns. In this regard, you should monitor the planning position and look to identify and attend any information sessions/meetings arranged by the council and/or developer in relation to the proposals so you fully understand what is being proposed to enable you to consider what effect the development might have on you.
2. Gather information about your property
Your interest in land (whether as freeholder, leaseholder and/or occupier) will be relevant to any compensation claim you may have as will the terms of that ownership or occupation (such as the provisions of a lease or a restriction on the use of a property). Copies of title deeds and leases will be required. Collect any market data available on your property and potentially comparable properties.
3. Consider your own planning position
Check the planning position in relation to your own property is in order and get copies of consents. Does everything you are doing have planning consent? Think about planned growth and whether further permissions are required. You should bear in mind that any compensation you are entitled to will be affected by how your land is and can be lawfully used as well as the potential for development.
4. Keep a paper trail of correspondence
It is often better to raise concerns with the council/developer at an early stage and you should consider whether to do so. If so, you should ensure that copies of letters are retained and any discussions or negotiations chronicled.
5. Gather information on the proposed scheme
Ensure you obtain and retain copies of any publicly available information about the proposals. The purpose is twofold – it may help to identify what specific concerns you have and, because information may change as the scheme progresses, it is important to capture that information now. This information is often helpful later.
6. Keep records of expenditure
If your land is ultimately acquired, whether by CPO or through negotiation, you will be looking to recoup as much by way of costs incurred as possible. The more records you have of expenditure, the better the chances of recovery.
7. Be careful on decision-making
In a business context particularly, how you respond to the threat of development/acquisition – even at an early stage – can often be relevant to a claim for compensation. Quite often an acquiring authority will want to see evidence of decision-making, through board minutes or otherwise, in order to evaluate whether a business’ decisions support or undermine a compensation claim. It is important to consider carefully and obtain appropriate advice before making any key decisions about your business.
8. Act quickly on receipt of relevant papers
If correspondence is received you need to deal with it promptly. Usually notices served have a specific time period within which to respond.
9. Look to identify procedures which might help now
There are a number of processes which do need consideration prior to a CPO being made. These include serving a blight notice or applying for a certificate of appropriate alternative development. These only apply at specific times and where you meet specified conditions and they are therefore worth considering early.
10. Think about what professional advice you need
You will need to instruct a specialist CPO valuer/surveyor at the appropriate time in order to assess and help put together your claim for compensation. In more complex cases, legal advice will also be required and you may need other experts depending upon the stance taken to CPO and to compensation negotiations. It is prudent to give early consideration to assembling the appropriate team.