Even for a lawyer, the legal test for having a compulsory purchase order (CPO) confirmed can look quite eye-watering. A promoter must make “a compelling case in the public interest” for its proposal. If its case is not compelling and in the public interest then the CPO and in all likelihood the development project behind it, fails. There’s been a reminder of this in the decision of the Secretary of State not to confirm a CPO promoted by Southwark Borough Council (Aylesbury Estate CPO 2016).
The application here was based on the need to regenerate a tired-looking housing estate in a central London borough. Nobody disputed that there were public benefits to the proposals. The problem was that the scheme did not overwhelmingly or conclusively benefit the public interest. In fact, the public benefits were found to be more arguable than the promoter had claimed, especially taking into account residents’ Article 8 rights to family and private life under the Human Rights Act 1998 as well as the public sector equality duty introduced by the Equality Act 2010.
This is new law in the greater voice it seems to give to residents and existing communities, and it acts as a neat general reminder to two groups. For the promoters of CPO schemes it underlines the need to look critically at proposals before they reach a point of no return. And for landowners – it demonstrates the benefits of arguing against a CPO scheme professionally, and from as early on in the process as possible as a means of protecting your land interests.
For more information on CPO issues and the options available to promoters and landowners, contact Oliver Bussell, Lead Planning Lawyer at Rix & Kay. Telephone 01825 744458. Email firstname.lastname@example.org