Acquisition - Compulsory purchase powers

B002 - Issue date - Under review


Local authorities and statutory undertakers possess compulsory purchase powers (CPO) to acquire interests in land for their statutory functions. The general principle is that an authority may only exercise those powers for the performance of its functions. For a local authority it is essential to use the powers appropriate to the scheme. There are therefore separate powers under highway, education, town planning legislation etc.

The council as a landowner can also be subject to the compulsory purchase of its land from another body. In this case, the procedures outlined below will apply to the council but from the standpoint of claimant.

When land is acquired by CPO the council must pay compensation to the owner and occupier and any other party who may hold an interest in the land.

However, there are also parties who despite having had no land taken can be adversely affected, for example by noise, through the use of a scheme such as a road. If these parties are domestic property owners then they may be entitled to make a claim under Part 1 of the Land Compensation Act 1973 (see below).

1. Making a CPO

The decision to make a compulsory purchase order will be taken by the Cabinet. The resolution containing the decision will set out the relevant statutory power and will identify the affected land by a plan.

The order will set out the statutory powers, the purpose of the acquisition, the land and its owners and occupiers and other parties who may hold interests in the land.

The steps to an order are:

  1. The property to be acquired is referenced and scheduled by either the core or framework consultant and plans prepared by them.
  2. Cabinet resolve to make an order.
  3. The order is made upon the fixing of the Common Seal by the County Solicitor.
  4. Legal arrange publication of statutory notices, serve notices on those affected by the order (parties with a legal interest in the land to be acquired) and arrange deposit of copies of the CPO and supporting documents for public inspection. The client department will arrange display of statutory notice on-site.
  5. Legal submit order for confirmation by relevant Secretary of State. If no objections, the Secretary of State decides whether or not to confirm the order. In limited circumstances the Secretary of State may authorize the council to determine the confirmation of the order.
  6. If objections, then public inquiry, inspector makes recommendation to Secretary of State who can decide whether or not confirm with or without amendments. (Properties can be deleted from an order). Alternatively the Secretary of State may deal with objections by the "written representations" procedure.
  7. If order confirmed with or without modifications, then council publishes notice of confirmation. After 6 weeks for legal objections council can proceed at its own timetable (subject to some statutory constraints) to implement the confirmed order.

2. Implementation of a CPO

  1. Council serves notice to treat on affected parties. The service is the issue of a quasi contract. This notice can only be withdrawn in limited circumstances and time scale. The following are therefore important. Is there finance in place to meet the potential claims? (any financial approvals must be obtained prior to service of notice to treat) Is the timing of the scheme right? The CPO powers will lapse if Notice to Treat is not served within 3 years of confirmation.
  2. Council receives claim in answer to Notice to Treat.
  3. Council negotiates claim and acquires property by conveyance.
  4. If possession is required prior to settlement of claim, then council can serve a Notice of Entry giving a minimum of 14 days before entry can be taken. Timing of this notice needs to be considered carefully as possession will give rise to interest payments which will be added to eventual compensation and may affect the scheme budget. Badly timed notices can also inflate costs especially if they leave claimants with insufficient time to relocate, especially businesses.
  5. Claims not agreed can be referred to the Lands Tribunal by council or claimant at any time up to 6 years from date of entry.
  6. Claims will lapse if not paid or referred to the Lands Tribunal within 6 years from date of entry. The council would not have legal title but be simply in possession.
  7. An alternative procedure which allows possession and title to the land to be taken simultaneously is provided by the making of a General Vesting Declaration.

3. Dealing with Part 1 Claims

Part 1 claims can be made by owner-occupiers or tenants having more than 3 years unexpired on their tenancy. Claims arise where property has been devalued by defined statutory physical factors ie. noise, vibration, smells, fumes, smoke and artificial lighting arising from the use of a public work. These are defined as any highway, aerodrome or works used or provided in the exercise of statutory powers. For Oxfordshire County Council the usual public work is the opening of a new or improved road. The council has accepted claims where new works inside an existing public highway have created or enhanced the statutory factors. Examples include speed humps and new roundabouts.

Claims must be made in writing not earlier than 1 year and not later than 6 years after the works have opened except where an owner is selling when a claim can be lodged to protect their entitlement to a claim. A person acquiring a property after the works have opened is not entitled to make a claim. The compensation is assessed by reference to property values on the day which follows the expiry of 12 months from the date the scheme opened.

Where part of the claimant's land has been acquired for the scheme then he cannot make a claim under Part 1. This is because he would normally be able to make a claim for injurious affection which would be settled as part of the acquisition.

The council's procedure at 1/07/03 for handling claims is:

  1. The claim is referred to Legal Services for checking of details.
  2. Admitted claims will be referred to the consultant for negotiation.
  3. Once settled, the consultant will report claims for payment as for other property transactions.

Further details

Further details can be obtained from:

Property and Facilities
Environment & Economy
Tel: 01865 815419


Legal Services
Corporate Core
Tel: 01865 810815