Compulsory Purchase Orders are a complex and evolving area of law, and as such it can be brought to life more if we explore some real life situations.
A14 Road improvement / widening scheme: Alfred Jones – tenant farmer
Alfred Jones occupies land on the west side of the A14 under an agricultural tenancy dating back to 1974. The landowner, his landlord, has told him he won’t get any compensation and that he needs to vacate the land by the end of August.
Alfred is entitled to compensation as he has a valid leasehold interest in the land (albeit unregistered at HM Land Registry). He should receive a notice from the acquiring authority and he will need to complete details of his occupation and evidence why he should receive compensation. He would be well advised to seek to have his unwritten tenancy agreement documented; he would also be entitled to compensation for crop loss, loss of entitlements etc, possible disturbance (including home loss if he occupies a dwelling on the holding).
Cambridge to Oxford Rail link: Betty Smith – Blight Notice
Betty Smith owns and lives in Rose Cottage close to a proposed new train line. She hasn’t received any notices in relation to any compulsory purchase of her property as the land on which it sits is not required, but a recent valuation suggests the value of her cottage will plummet. Her elderly neighbour is concerned that although his land is not the subject of a CPO may be required for construction works.
Betty should serve a Blight Notice on the acquiring authority and seek compensation for the reduction in the value of her cottage; she may be able to request that her cottage is compulsorily purchased and receive compensation accordingly. Her neighbour should receive a notice confirming his land is required for works and will be entitled to compensation accordingly; if any power cables etc need to be laid under his land or it is required during the construction phase, he can resist this land being taken and seek to grant easements instead and claim compensation for that.
Proposed new ‘village’ development: C Brown & Son Partnership – Restructuring
Chris Brown and his son farm 800 acres of land in partnership together. Chris owns all of the land but it is not registered at HM Land Registry, however the farming partnership occupies some of the land on an informal licence. They have heard rumours that the local plan may contain provision for a new village in their locality.
As it currently stands the partners may not be entitled to as much compensation as they otherwise might if the land they farm is taken under a CPO. This is because those occupying under a licence agreement are not deemed to be entitled to compensation and although the freehold owner (Chris) would be, he would miss out on elements of compensation such as crop loss, basic payment scheme payment losses, disturbance etc which he could claim if the partnership’s occupation was regularised and properly documented as a farm business tenancy. The land also needs to be registered to prove ownership and enable compensation to be paid more quickly.