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Occupier objections to a compulsory purchase order

This content applies to England

How to object to a CPO, and the relevant legal procedures.

Objections before a CPO is made

At this stage, there is no specific legal process to stop the authority resolving to make a CPO. If there is difficulty working out which is the ‘acquiring authority’, or whether a CPO has been made, inquiries can be made of the local authority planning, legal and estates departments.

Political pressure may cause the proposed development to be modified, delayed or even stopped. Concerned people can write to a local newspaper, contact councillors or the local MP, attend council meetings, join or start a pressure group, and contribute to the consultation process, if there is one.

Local authorities are legally obliged to give advanced public notice of important decisions they intend to make.

Objecting to a CPO

Objections to CPOs must be in writing, but there is no specific form. An objection can be made by a qualifying person or their professional adviser. A qualifying person is:[1]

  • an owner, leaseholder, tenant or occupier of any land in the CPO, or
  • any other person who may have the right to claim compensation if the CPO is made (sometimes called a ‘statutory objector’).

The CPO notice sent out by the acquiring authority will state who the objection should be sent to, and the time limit.

Valid and invalid objections

The government minister who is the confirming authority is entitled to disregard objections about the following:[2]

  • the amount of compensation
  • where the acquiring authority wants part of the property and the owner wants to sell all of it
  • where the objection amounts to an objection to local planning policy.

Valid objections which cannot be disregarded are usually those where the objector:

  • agrees with the scheme but wants minor amendments to minimise the impact
  • agrees with the purpose of the scheme but wants it located elsewhere
  • rejects the scheme completely, but not because of objections to local planning policy.

It can be difficult to understand what objections are valid, and objectors can get advice from a specialist solicitor or surveyor (usually this will need to be paid for) or by a free adviser – contact Environmental Law Foundation.

A valid objection made by a statutory objector will lead to an Inquiry.

How objections are dealt with

If there are objections, there is a difference between an objection made within the stipulated period by a qualifying person and an objection by anyone else.

The objections are considered by the minister, who may disregard invalid objections (see Opposing a CPO). If there remain one or more objections from qualifying persons that have not been disregarded or withdrawn, then the minister must arrange a public inquiry (unless all the remaining objectors agree that the remaining objections can be dealt with in writing).

How to object

Objecting to a CPO will often lead to an inquiry, which may delay the development and, if the objectors have good arguments, the inquiry may lead to the CPO being modified or even rejected. Objectors should also consider negotiations or simply relying on the right to compensation.

Many legal challenges under section 23 of the Acquisition of Land Act 1981 fail, and they have complicated procedures run to tight deadlines. Objectors should always get advice from a solicitor or law centre before starting a legal challenge. Objectors should also remember that the usual rule in court cases is for the loser to pay the winner’s legal costs, which could be thousands of pounds.

[1] s.12 Acquisition of Land Act 1981.

[2] s.11(4) Compulsory Purchase Act 1965.

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