Compulsory Purchase is when the government, a local authority or utility company exercise their legal rights to buy or take rights over your private property if it falls within a public or private construction project or scheme such as:
- Airport expansions
- Housing development
- Electricity pylons and cables
- Flood defence works
- Sewer, water or gas pipe schemes
- Rail or road building projects
- Where the Local Authority wants to carry out the re-development or regeneration of an area, (including town centres) under the Town and Country Planning Acts.
Statutory powers are needed to implement the above schemes, and the various public bodies and new private undertakings have the statutory rights to acquire such land and new rights in order to achieve their objectives.
Different Acts of Parliament provide the necessary statutory powers needed to implement their objectives. e.g. land required for roadways will be acquired under the Highways Act 1980; and land or property required for housing provision is acquired under the Housing Act 1985, whether it be vacant land for new housing, clearance of unfit houses or empty properties bought for improvement and bringing back into housing use.
Compulsory Purchase powers also now exist for the new privatised utilities companies, who will use the Electricity Act 1989, or the Water Industry Act 1991 for example, for the laying of electricity power lines or water pipes.
The various Government Departments also have similar powers, e.g. the Department of Transport for motorway construction or widening.
In all cases, owners and occupiers of properties which are to be acquired or are affected by the proposed scheme will be served with detailed Notices about the purchasing Authority's intentions and a full Statement of the Reasons for the scheme, and affected persons can lodge objections to such proposals.
All acquisitions are subject to the payment of compensation to owners and occupiers directly affected by the scheme as set out in the Land Compensation Acts.
It is the duty of the Acquiring Authority to put in place Alternative Dispute Resolution facilities, for those persons affected by or having concerns about the Compulsory Purchase proposals. This could hopefully avoid the need to hold a full local Public Inquiry which can be costly and also stressful for those involved. It also follows the government's own pledge to settle disputes out of court.