Compulsory purchase in Scotland: guide for property owners and occupiers

Guidance for owners and occupiers who believe they may be affected by a compulsory purchase project.

Who is this guide for and what does it do?

This guide provides advice for anyone whose property may be affected by a compulsory purchase or the prospect of compulsory purchase.

It is recognised that compulsory purchase can be highly complex, involving legislation and case law, which can cause stress and worry for those affected. This guide is intended to provide you with answers to the main queries that commonly arise and to direct you to sources of more detailed advice.

This guide aims to provide you with:

  • An introduction to and outline explanation of the compulsory purchase process;
  • An explanation of your rights and what you can expect;
  • Advice on how to best represent and protect your interests throughout the process;
  • Answers to the initial questions that you may have so that you can identify the further advice and information you need; and
  • Information about where you can go to get more detailed advice, tailored to your circumstances.

If you think that you may be affected by a compulsory purchase project you are strongly advised to seek advice from a suitably qualified and experienced professional (e.g. a chartered valuation surveyor, land agent or solicitor) as early as possible. They will be able to help you represent your interests and provide advice about the compensation that you may be entitled to and your rights. The reasonable fees of engaging professional advice can normally be reclaimed (see Section 4), though you should clarify with the Acquiring Authority what they will cover. Section 5 provides details of who you can contact for further advice.

In this guide we use:

Property to mean any land and/or buildings subject to compulsory purchase – including a home, a farm or a commercial business.

Owner to mean any person or entity with a right to, or interest in, ownership of a property – including: the owner, occupier or landlord; the owner of another property who has a right of access or other right to the property; and creditors who hold a security over the property.

Tenant to mean any person or entity that has a legal right to occupy a property under the terms of a formal lease agreement.

Acquiring Authority to mean any public service organisation with compulsory purchase powers – including: local authorities and other public service providers; utility companies; Scottish Government Agencies and Non-Departmental Public Bodies; and Network Rail. Note: Private-sector companies do not hold compulsory purchase powers themselves but may work in partnership with an Acquiring Authority to deliver projects deemed to be in the public interest.

Compulsory Purchase to mean the compulsory purchase process undertaken by an Acquiring Authority to acquire private property and interests in private property without the owner's agreement. This will most commonly be undertaken through a Compulsory Purchase Order but may also be pursued through a Transport and Works Scotland Act Order or a Special Act of Parliament for major infrastructure projects. The detailed process for seeking permission to purchase property compulsorily may vary somewhat but the broad process, and the underlying considerations and rights that you have, will be the same whatever mechanism is used to obtain permission for the purchase.

Whilst the general principles outlined in this guide apply to all types of compulsory purchase there may be variations in the detailed process through which they are promoted and determined. For example, Transport Scotland have published their own guide for property owners affected by compulsory purchase for trunk road projects and this is available from:

The Scottish Government considers powers to purchase land compulsorily to be an important tool for local authorities and other public bodies (collectively referred to as Acquiring Authorities) to use to acquire land needed to enable projects that are in the public interest to proceed, where this would otherwise not be possible.

The Scottish Government vision for compulsory purchase is for:

"A clear, accessible, consistent, effective and efficient system of legislation and policy which allows for the compulsory acquisition and purchase of legal interests in land and property for the public benefit. The provisions relating to any compensation should be fair and transparent and allow for timeous settlement."



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