Private Property Compulsary Acquisition

What are compulsory purchase and statutory rights?

This is when the government, local council or utility company has the legal right to buy or take rights over your private property if it falls within a public or private construction project such as:

  • housing developments
  • commercial or mixed use developments
  • recreational facilities
  • sewer, water or gas pipe schemes
  • rail or road building projects
  • unfit properties

Different compulsory purchase or statutory powers are needed to implement the above schemes. For example, water pipes are laid under statutory rights under the Water Industry Act 1991 and a road bypass will have its own compulsory purchase order through the Acquisition of Land Act 1981.

In all cases, the owners and occupiers of the properties to be acquired or affected by the scheme will be served notices, with differing expiry times. The proceedure for compulsory acquisition is set out in the statutes and there is a code for deteriming the compensation payable.

In very brief summary the acquiring authority has to;

  • identify the site/buildings and the justification for purchase
  • pass a resolution to define the land/building, the purpose and the powers being used make an order, publish detail of that order in the press and serve notices on owners and occupiers
  • note any objections that are made to the Secretary of State
  • attend an inquiry and to make the case for the purchase if there are objections act on the Secretary of State's decision
  • serve notices on the interested parties if the order is confirmed
  • serve either a General Vesting Declaration or a Notice to Treat to take legal possession of the land/building
  • pay compensation once entry is taken onto land/buildings
  • attend a hearing of the Lands Tribunal if compensation is not agreed by negotiation

Compensation can also be claimed in some circumstances where land/buildings are not acquired but where as a direct result of the scheme an interest has been effected, for example by noise or vibration.