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Compulsory purchase order by an acquiring authority

This content applies to England & Wales

How the acquiring authority makes a compulsory purchase order (CPO).

When the authority has a scheme that requires it to acquire other people's land, it can resolve to make a CPO. When it has enough information, the acquiring authority will prepare the CPO, and usually an accompanying statement of reasons, in accordance with section 2 of the Acquisition of Land Act 1981.

Requisition for information form

As part of preparing for a CPO, the acquiring authority may send a 'Requisition for information form' to owners or occupiers of relevant properties. Failure to provide information, or making false or reckless statements, is a criminal offence. Ignoring the form will not stop the process.

Right to enter land

An acquiring authority which is considering using its compulsory purchase powers may need to enter the land to survey and value it before it decides to make a CPO.

With effect from 13 July 2016, a general power of entry for survey and valuation purposes is available to all acquiring authorities in connection with a proposal to acquire land using its compulsory purchase powers.[1]

Publicising the CPO

Sections 11 and 12 of the Acquisition of Land Act 1981 stipulates that the acquiring authority must publicise the proposed CPO as follows:

  • publication of a notice for two successive weeks in one or more local newspapers
  • notices on or near the land affected
  • individual notices to any 'qualifying person', including:
    • every owner, leaseholder, tenant and occupier of any land in the CPO, and
    • any other person who may have the right to claim compensation, because they own rights in the land being acquired and these will be interfered with, or the value of their land will or may be reduced even if their land will not be acquired.

The notices are very similar, and each must:

  • state that a CPO is about to be sent to a government minister for confirmation
  • specify a time of at least 21 days within which objections to the CPO can be made
  • specify the manner in which objections may be made
  • say where the CPO and map may be inspected.

The CPO paperwork is sent to a government minister (the 'confirming authority')  or (for applications made on or after 6 April 2018) to an inspector who has been appointed by the confirming authority in accordance with sections 13-15 of the Acquisition of Land Act 1981. If no objections are made and the minister is satisfied that proper notices have been given, s/he will confirm, modify or reject the CPO. If objections are made, there will be a public inquiry.

For CPOs submitted on or after 6 April 2018, the government minister must publish a timetable in relation to the steps to be taken when confirming a compulsory purchase order.[2]

Notices after CPO is confirmed

After the CPO is confirmed, the acquiring authority must provide a copy of the order to each qualifying person. It must also fix a confirmation notice in a prescribed form to a 'conspicuous object or objects' on or near the land in question, addressed to anyone with an interest in the land. Confirmation notices must also be published in the local newspapers, usually within six weeks of confirmation of the order. A confirmation notice must explain that an objector may apply to the High Court to question the validity of the CPO.[3]

Getting possession

Once a CPO has been confirmed, the acquiring authority can implement the CPO by:

  • agreement – see the page on Negotiations
  • a notice to treat and notice of entry ,[4] – the notice to treat gives the owner or occupier of the land the opportunity to claim Compensation. If s/he fails to make a claim, there may be costs penalties if the case goes to the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber). The notice of entry gives notice of the time when the acquiring authority can take possession of the land
  • a general vesting declaration (GVD),[5] by which ownership of the land is transferred to the acquiring authority; compensation is then dealt with later
  • taking control of tenancies , for example by serving a notice to quit where the tenancy permits it, or by using the notice to treat or notice of entry procedures
  • taking action following a blight notice ,[6] which is a notice served by the landowner where s/he wants the acquiring authority to get on with the process.

The acquiring authority, as a public authority, must act fairly and reasonably in implementing the CPO.[7] There is a three year time limit for exercising CPO powers once a CPO has been confirmed, which can be extended if there is a challenge to the validity of the CPO.[8]

Mitigation works

These are works carried out by the acquiring authority or paid for by the acquiring authority to reduce the impact of development on homes which are not covered by the CPO but are sufficiently close to be affected by the development.


Soundproofing must be offered to homeowners affected by new roads, railways or airports. There are qualifying criteria for the noise effect on the home. Ask the acquiring authority for details. It may be willing to offer soundproofing even where the criteria are not fulfilled. Soundproofing is to a statutory quality, but if this is insufficient it is possible to ask for a grant to be paid instead and to be used towards a higher level of soundproofing.

Other mitigating works and actions

The acquiring authority may offer other mitigating works. Often this is done as part of an agreement to withdraw objections or simply to make the CPO proposal more reasonable. Mitigating works can include:

  • acquiring land that will be affected by the development, but which is beyond the necessary CPO area
  • planting trees or shrubs
  • landscaping
  • payments for temporary relocation while works are carried out.

An owner or occupier should get advice from a solicitor or surveyor to ensure that any agreement, offer or concession made by the acquiring authority is properly recorded and is legally enforceable, before taking any step in reliance on it.

Further information

Government guidance on the compulsory purchase process, including the requirement to publish a timetable in relation to confirming a CPO, is available on

[1] ss.172-179 Housing and Planning Act 2016; reg 3 Housing and Planning Act 2016 (Commencement No.2, Transitional Provisions and Savings) Regulations 2016 SI 2016/733; s.11(3) Compulsory Purchase Act 1965.

[2] s.14B Acquisition of Land Act 1981.

[3] s.15 Acquisition of Land Act 1981.

[4] s.5 Compulsory Purchase Act 1965.

[5] s.4 Compulsory Purchase (Vesting Declaration) Act 1981.

[6] Ch.2, Part 6 Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

[7] Norris v First Secretary of State [2006] EWCA Civ 12.

[8] s.4 Compulsory Purchase Act 1965.

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