This timeline sets out the key stages and steps to be taken to secure a compulsory purchase order (CPO). The dates referered to provide an indication of how long the process might take for a small scale and relatively straightforward CPO. Each stage could take more or less time depending on the complexity of a scheme.
Compulsory purchase order process – indicative timeline
Information gathering and preparation of draft CPO documents
Acquiring authority drafts the CPO, the CPO plan, schedule of interests and statement of reasons. At the same time, the acquiring authority prepares a report to the relevant authorising committee.
Report to committee and resolution to use CPO powers
Acquiring authorities will require a detailed report on the proposed use of compulsory purchase powers in order to authorise the use of those powers.
Serve 'requisition for information' notices
The acquiring authority will serve notice on all people they believe own or occupy the land they wish to acquire asking for details of a person's interest in the land and whether there are any other persons with an interest in the land. The requisition for information notice usually specifies a deadline of 21 days for responses although it can often take longer to gather all the information required.
Acquiring authority makes CPO
Once it has all the information it needs on landownership, the acquiring authority makes the CPO and serves notice of it on parties with “qualifying interests”. The acquiring authority puts up site notices and publishes in one or more local newspapers. The CPO, CPO plan and statement of reasons are made available for inspection.
Statutory period for objections
The period for objections will be set out in the notice and is a minimum of 21 days from the date the notice is served, displayed or first published (as the case may be). Objections must be in writing. If there are other orders required, the objection period may be longer.
Where relevant objections are received, the Secretary of State will order a public local inquiry into the CPO. Objections to level of compensation payable will not be considered. Where no objections are received (or objections are resolved), the CPO can be confirmed without the need for an inquiry.
Secretary of State issues 'relevant date' letter
The 'relevant date' letter sets the date for the inquiry and sets out the deadline for the acquiring authority to serve its statement of case.
Deadline for lodging 'statement of case' for public local inquiry
The deadline for lodging the statement of case will usually be 6 weeks after the date of the 'relevant date' letter. Remaining objectors may also be asked to provide a statement of case prior to the inquiry.
Inquiry and site visit
The inquiry should normally be held 22 weeks after the relevant date. The date will depend on likely duration of the inquiry and the availability of an inspector. An inspector will hear evidence from the acquiring authority and the remaining objectors. A pre-inquiry meeting may also be held. The inspector will usually visit the site. There are procedures for both accompanied and unaccompanied site visits.
The inspector to the inquiry issues his/her written report setting out conclusions and recommendations for consideration by the Secretary of State.
Secretary of State decision
After considering the inspector's report, the Secretary of State issues a decision to either confirm, modify or reject the CPO. The decision letter, setting out his/her reasons for the decision, is sent to the acquiring authority and any remaining objectors and other persons who requested notification.
Acquiring authority publicises the decision in local newspapers as soon as possible after receipt of the decision letter.
Judicial review challenge period
The validity of a CPO can be challenged within six weeks of the date of the first newspaper notice.
Implementation of CPO
The CPO can be implemented and land acquired following publication. This process usually takes about three months.