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HS2 Would Require a Host of Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPO)

Monday, 7 October 2013

To most homeowners the property and land where they choose to live is more than just bricks and mortar. The family home is normally purchased over years of hard work, scrimping, saving and endless mortgage payments and carries years of nostalgia and strong ties built up in the surrounding community.

But, if your home happens to stand in the way of development, it can come as a shock to people when they find out that their local authorities have the power to force them to sell their homes by issuing a compulsory purchase order (CPO).

Although the wider political focus is on its costs, the high speed rail project High Speed Two (HS2) would displace many homeowners subjected to CPOs.

What Are Compulsory Purchase Orders?

Compulsory purchase orders allow certain bodies, most commonly local authorities, to obtain property or land without the consent of the owner.

The power remains controversial and there are some important limitations on local authorities: compulsory purchase orders can only be enforced where the local authority can show that the acquisition of the land or property is “necessary” and “in the public interest”.

For these reasons, the power is often used for large construction projects like the development of motorway networks, the expansion of towns or infrastructure projects such as HS2.

HS2 – A Steamroller for Homeowners

Significant numbers of compulsory purchases orders are likely to be used in the proposed development of HS2. The HS2 scheme is intended to allow trains to run at 250mph from London to Birmingham, ultimately with branches to Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield.

The controversial plans would necessitate miles of new track and would no doubt see compulsory purchase orders being utilised across the country where the track passes through residential areas.

How Do Compulsory Purchase Orders Work?

Where a compulsory purchase order is enforced, the property owner is entitled to receive compensation for the loss of their home or land. Compensation will cover the value of the property as well as the cost of buying a new home and the cost of professional advice.

There are a couple of different methods a local authority can use to implement a compulsory purchase order: by serving “a notice to treat” or executing a “general vesting declaration”. Both methods have differing rules and timescales that the local authority is bound to follow.

The rules are complex and the timescales strict, so it is important for those who find themselves served with a compulsory purchase order to seek professional advice as soon as possible.

If you need further information and advice concerning compulsory purchase orders, contact Peter Gourri today by email or telephone 0207 611 4848.

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