Compulsory purchase orders (CPO) are a common part of the development and regeneration process. In brief, a CPO enables the purchase of property and land by the local authority for diverse projects which demonstrate 'a compelling case in the public interest' - even if the purchase is against the householders' or landowners' wishes. The practice is commonly used to facilitate projects such as the building of houses as well as the development of town centres, general infrastructure and the construction of major roads and railways.
A CPO exists to ensure that in these cases, the landowner or property owner is appropriately compensated. The process operates on the principle of equivalence, meaning that the (often unwilling) vendor should be no financially better or worse off as a result of the compulsory sale. In addition to the property's market value, the compensation package usually includes relocation costs. In order to get the best deal and negotiate the process, vendors are often advised to seek professional advice from solicitors and chartered surveyors. The cost of these services is usually reimbursed by the purchasing local authority.
The impact of HS2
The announcement earlier this year of the proposed high speed rail link HS2, which will provide high capacity, high speed links between London, Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester, has inevitably brought the issue of CPOs to the fore. With construction due to commence in 2016, the project has significant implications for property owners living along the route, as well as those who own land in the vicinity. So far, there have been 22 consultation events along the proposed route, designed to allow the public to comment on the proposed HS2 compensation scheme, which is due to be finalised this spring.