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Compulsory Acquisition

What does "compulsory purchase" mean?

Like all local authorities, East Devon District Council has powers to compulsorily acquire property for specific purposes. This means the Council can in limited circumstances buy your property and compensate you even if you do not want to sell.

However, the Council has to have a reason which is in the public interest and set down in law.

Planning powers are available to enable land to be developed, redeveloped or improved. The Government states that compulsory purchase powers are important as a means of getting together areas of land needed to help deliver Urban Regeneration.

Compulsory Purchase Orders have to be authorised by the  Council.

Compulsory Purchase is a legal process but the basic steps are:

  • The Council authorises an Order  for a particular purpose, for example in connection with housing improvement or a town centre redevelopment scheme.
  • The Order is made and submitted to the  Secretary of State.
  • You will be notified of the Order if you have an interest in the land.  Anyone can object to the Order, not just those having interests in the land concerned.
  • If the objections are not withdrawn a Public Local Inquiry will be held, by a Government Inspector. This is open to the public and, if the Inspector agrees, it may be possible for those not having a direct interest in the Order to speak.
  • Following the Inquiry the Inspector will prepare a report and recommendations to the Secretary of State who will then issue his decision. This can either be that he confirms the Order, or confirms the Order with modification (i.e. he may take some of the properties out of the Order), or does not confirm the Order.
  • If the Order is confirmed the Council will take possession of the property.

If there are no objections, an Inquiry will not be held but the Secretary of State will make his decision.

The rules of compensation are complex but as a general principle no owner should be worse off as a result of compulsory purchase. For instance, if the property concerned is where you live either the  Council will re-house you or you should have sufficient compensation to set up a new home. Particular efforts will be made to help businesses that are affected by proposals.

Although Compulsory Purchase is a legal means to acquire land it is usually done as part of a wider initiative, e.g. a regeneration scheme or town redevelopment scheme. There is extensive consultation with local communities about these schemes, and the opportunity for individuals to comment, in addition to the legal processes of compulsory purchase described on this page.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister publishes a series of booklets to help those who may be affected by compulsory purchase. They may be obtained from:

ODPM Free Literature
PO Box No. 236
LS23 7NB

Tel: 0870 1226 236
Fax: 0870 1226 237
Text Phone: 0870 1207405

Page last updated on 28 January 2015