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Compulsory Purchase and Compensation

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Planning Practice


You have been asked to advise on the possible compulsory purchase of property required by a local authority to assist with the support and development of a town centre within it’s administrative area. The local authority wishes to provide a site to it’s joint owner of a small local shopping centre in response to upgrades by other centres in neighbouring boroughs. The site will be for a shopping centre extension as part of a general modernisation programme. The proposed acquisitions could include a separate small site for highway improvements and accommodation works. The accommodation works are mainly aesthetic, but could be adapted to mitigate potential compensation claims and deal with possible objections to a Compulsory Purchase Order, should one be pursued. The works would also allow access for larger delivery vehicles via a service road and wider turning for family vehicles to the car park.

The possible scheme has been included in a plan discussed at the authority’s recent Cabinet meeting. There has already been a letter to the local newspaper from a community group who claim that “homes will be taken and businesses destroyed”.

The property not already owned by the Local Authority comprises;

  • A freehold pair of semi detached Victorian houses.
  • An owner occupied freehold shop with upper parts, in a terrace the remainder of which is already owned by the local authority.
  • A vacant freehold yard of 2,000 sq. ft.
  • A narrow parcel of freehold land of 500 sq. ft, half of which will not be needed long term.

The CEO of the Local Authority has asked you to advise on the following.

  1. Whether a CPO is the best way to proceed and whether the scheme could be delivered by acquiring the properties by agreement, or a combination of both.
  2. A single figure representing the likely total cost of acquisitions within the CPO area. (Assume the properties are within an area you are familiar with for the valuation element of the total costs).
  3. For financial planning purposes, the most likely phasing of the funding required, as outlined by you in 2, above.
  4. Any political issues that you feel may need to be given consideration for mitigation and briefing of the Council’s press office.
  5. An estimate of when the land will be available for the scheme.


Prepare a brief report of between 1,500 and 2,500 words addressing all the points above. Please include an appendix with valuations, and a brief outline of the legal basis for all the advice given.


Assessment criteria

  1. A good level of analysis and reflection on the situation described and the advice given.
  2. Application of theory to practice of compulsory purchase.
  3. Presentation skills, clearly outlining the advice sought.
  4. Originality of thought and argument.
  5. Awareness of technical concepts of compulsory purchase and appropriate references and evidence to substantiate arguments regarding the level of compensation payable.


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