1. A compulsory purchase order can allow certain organisations to buy property without the owner's permission, if there is a strong enough case for this in the public interest.
2. It can be confusing if property that you own, rent, live in or use is affected by a compulsory purchase order, so we've prepared this guide to help you understand the process. This guide is not meant to replace professional advice and it doesn't contain a complete guide to the law. But it will give you a general idea of how compulsory purchase works, what your rights are and where you can go for help and advice.
3. This guide explains:
- who can use compulsory purchase;
- why compulsory purchase is needed;
- how the compulsory purchase process works;
- what compensation and other payments you may be entitled to; and
- where you can go for advice.
4. If you think that your property might be affected by a compulsory purchase order, you might want to find out more. At the end of this guide we've included some contact details for organisations that can give you help, advice and more information.
5. In this guide we use the word 'authority' to describe any organisation that is using its compulsory purchase powers. We use the word 'property' to describe any land or buildings affected by compulsory purchase.
6. This guide doesn't apply to compulsory purchase orders issued by Transport Scotland. If Transport Scotland needs to buy your property for a road project, you should read the guidance on the Transport Scotland website at www.scotland.gov.uk/TSCPOguide.
7. This guide also doesn't apply to compulsory purchase for railways, tramways or other transport systems under the Transport and Works (Scotland) Act 2007. If your property is affected by an order made under the Transport and Works Act, you should read the guidance on Transport Scotland's website at www.scotland.gov.uk/TAWSgeneral.
Who can use compulsory purchase?
8. Many authorities that do things for the public's benefit have the power to make compulsory purchase orders. Most compulsory purchase orders are made by local authorities (councils) and the Scottish Government, through agencies such as Transport Scotland. Public utilities such as water or electricity companies can also make compulsory purchase orders.
9. Commercial companies like property developers don't have the power to make compulsory purchase orders, but sometimes they might work with a council on a project. A council might not have enough money or specialist skills to carry out a project on its own. So it might work with another organisation such as a property developer or community group. Working in partnership like this can allow a project that is in the public interest to go ahead when it might otherwise not be possible.
Why is compulsory purchase needed?
10. An authority might need to buy a property to do something that is in the public interest. For example, a council sometimes needs to buy property to build a road, school or a housing development, to improve the area or to promote economic growth. These projects can range in size from a major scheme to regenerate a large area to a small individual scheme to bring a single derelict property or empty home back into use.
11. Sometimes, an authority might need to use a compulsory purchase order to buy the land that it needs. But an authority can only use compulsory purchase where there is a strong enough case for this in the public interest.
12. Without compulsory purchase, many projects that are in the public interest would not be able to go ahead.
How does the compulsory purchase process work?
13. All compulsory purchase orders must be confirmed by the Scottish Government. Scottish Ministers will weigh up the public benefit in the authority's scheme against the interests of the owners and other people who would be affected. After fully considering any objections, Ministers will decide whether to confirm the order.
14. An authority that wants to use compulsory purchase must follow procedures set out in law. These procedures make sure that owners, tenants and any other people who live in or use the property know what is happening and have the chance to object. The procedures also make sure that Scottish Ministers hear these objections and take them into account. (Please see pages 4 to 11 to find out more about how compulsory purchase works.)
What compensation and other payments are you entitled to?
15. If the compulsory purchase goes ahead, you may be entitled to a package of compensation. Generally, this should put you in the same financial position you were in before the authority bought the property under the compulsory purchase order. (Please read pages 12 to 17 to find out more about compensation.)
Where can you go for advice?
16. You can call the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors' Compulsory Purchase Helpline on 0870 333 1600. This helpline will put you in touch with an experienced chartered surveyor in your local area for up to 30 minutes of free advice.
17. You may also be able to get free advice by calling the Planning Aid for Scotland helpline on 0845 603 7602.
18. Depending on your financial circumstances, you may be able to get free legal advice by contacting the Scottish Legal Aid Board on 0845 122 8686.
19. At the end of this guide we've included a list of other organisations that you can contact for advice.
20. You can also get more information on compulsory purchase from the Scottish Government's website at www.scotland.gov.uk/cpo.
21. If you are worried that you might be made homeless because a compulsory purchase order affects your home, you should speak to your council as soon as possible. The council must find you a place to live, at reasonable cost, if you can't find anywhere yourself. You can also call Shelter Scotland on 0808 800 4444 for free advice.
If you need advice, you can call the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors' Compulsory Purchase Helpline on 0870 333 1600. This helpline will put you in touch with an experienced chartered surveyor in your local area for up to 30 minutes of free advice.
You may also be able to get free advice by calling the Planning Aid for Scotland helpline on 0845 603 7602.
Depending on your financial circumstances, you may be able to get free legal advice by calling the Scottish Legal Aid Board on 0845 122 8686.