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Government lays out new proposals for compulsory purchase of land

As part of the new Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill announced in the Queen’s Speech, new proposals have been introduced which will seek to redress issues faced by landowners undergoing a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO).

The aim of the new bill is to support the government’s ambition to deliver one million new homes, while protecting valued areas (such as Green Belt); ensure the homes and infrastructure the country requires are forthcoming; and radically alter the way that major infrastructure projects are planned for and delivered. 

As part of these changes, it will seek to make the CPO process clearer, fairer and faster for both developers and land owners alike.

The changes will include reforming the context within which compensation is negotiated. This is often a significant part of any CPO and often creates a number of complexities when attempting to close a deal.  

The move comes after the government announced plans to consolidate and clarify over 100 years of conflicting statute and case law.

As part of this process the government will establish a new clear legislative framework to assist compensation negotiation. While further details are yet to emerge the government has made it clear that this new system will be based upon the fundamental principle that compensation should be based on the market value of the land, in the absence of the scheme underlying the compulsory purchase.

The Queen’s Speech also included proposals to effectively privatise the Land Registry, which experts claim will support the delivery of a modern, digitally based land registration service.

However, the Conveyancing Association (CA), the leading trade body for the conveyancing industry, has said it is against the privatisation of the Registry.

Eddie Goldsmith, Chairman of the CA, said: “It was very clear from last month’s Management Committee Meeting that, while the vote was not unanimous, a majority of management committee members opposed any privatisation of the Land Registry. Within our consultation response we have therefore set out the reasons for this opposition and we would urge individual CA member firms to issue their own responses, in order that we reflect both a collective view and also to ensure those with a different opinion have their voices heard.

“We are however not so naive as to think that this will mean privatisation is stopped in its tracks. It’s clear that it is the government’s favoured option and therefore it may go ahead regardless of our views.

“This is why, within our consultation response, we have suggested a number of safeguards that we would like to see in place, as well as recommendations about how a newly-privatised Land Registry should be managed, overseen and ultimately deliver its services.

“We await the results of the consultation and will be taking a full part in any future proposals that The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills issues on this incredibly important matter.”

Link: Queen’s Speech 2016