Compulsory purchase orders and acquiring authorities: guidance on preparing a CPO

CPOGNAA/003 Third in a series of guidance notes intended to provide information for acquiring authorities with no, or limited experience of, compulsory purchase orders (CPOs). This note provides guidance on preparing a CPO.

4. Engaging with and Supporting Affected People

4.1. As soon as possible after the Acquiring Authority has resolved to make a draft CPO it should re-contact those directly or indirectly affected. It should explain to people in plain and simple language:

  • Why it needs to acquire their land and the powers that it is proposing to use;
  • What the public benefits are expected to be;
  • What alternative sites (if any) it has considered;
  • How the compulsory purchase process works;
  • What professional fees they are entitled to reclaim and how and when it will repay them; and
  • The rights of those affected and where they can go for advice.

To aid authorities, the Scottish Government has produced an easy to read guide for land owners affected by Compulsory Purchase Orders. This should be shared with all affected parties at the earliest opportunity. This can be found at:

Serving statutory notices and advertising the CPO

4.2. At various stages of the process the Acquiring Authority must serve notices on people with an interest in the land and advertise the compulsory purchase.

4.3. The wording of these notices and adverts is prescribed and can be found in the Compulsory Purchase of Land (Scotland) Regulations 2003:

4.4. When serving a notice, the Acquiring Authority should include a covering letter that explains as clearly and plainly as possible why it has sent the notice, what the notice means, what the person should do next and where they can go to get help and advice. In the case of acquisition of rights short of ownership, the Acquiring Authority should also set out if these are temporary or permanent and what, if any, mitigation measures are proposed.

4.5. The notice should also provide contact details for an individual in the Acquiring Authority who can be contacted for further information and/or to clarify the implications of the proposal.

Accommodation works

4.6. Whilst there is no statutory requirement on Acquiring Authorities to provide Accommodation Works it is considered good practice for such works to be provided for as part of the public work as it is usually cheaper and more time efficient for the Acquiring Authority to do so, than for the landowner to undertake the work and claim compensation thereafter. Installation of accommodation works is therefore commonly undertaken and paid for by the Acquiring Authority on the retained land, where part-only of a property is compulsorily acquired. Accommodation works can ameliorate the adverse effects of a project and, therefore, can reduce the amount of compensation payable. Examples of accommodation works include fencing, screening and the provision of new gates/access points.

4.7. Acquiring Authorities should therefore engage early with the affected landowner(s) to discuss the extent of the necessary works with the landowner(s) and their agent(s) and seek to formally agree a schedule of works to be undertaken. Poor engagement, information sharing and discussions between the Acquiring Authority, its contractors and landowners can lead to objections and grievances which might otherwise be avoided.

4.8. If acquiring only part of someone's land the Acquiring Authority should consider at an early stage the possible benefits of offering and agreeing compensation for any temporary activities, structures, or placement of equipment on the land in question.

4.9. To avoid misunderstandings or disputes any agreement about accommodation works should be fully specified in writing and shown on detailed maps.

4.10. The Acquiring Authority should ensure that their contractors know and understand what has been agreed and that the accommodation works are carried out properly and timeously to the agreed specifications.

Agricultural or Business land

4.11. When proposing to acquire agricultural or business land, due to the impact compulsory purchase will have on employment and livelihoods, the Acquiring Authority should seek as early as possible to fully assess the impact of the proposed compulsory purchase on any affected individual or business.

4.12. To achieve this, it should consider the value of consulting with or employing a suitably qualified and experienced land agent or chartered surveyor. It should also consider the benefits of ensuring that the officials who speak to land owners and occupiers have an awareness of farming and/or business issues. Equally, the Acquiring Authority should recommend to the affected landowner that they also take suitable professional advice.

4.13. If the Acquiring Authority is seeking to acquire only part of a property it should fully consider the effect of this on the future viability of the farm or business, including whether the proposal would lead to business extinguishment or the successful service of a Notice of Objection to Severance or a claim for material detriment, which could significantly increase costs. In some cases a slight change in the amount of land taken can dramatically lessen the impact and/or the need for expensive accommodation works. Farmers and landowners should be fully consulted on the proposals as they may be able to suggest changes to the scheme which would mitigate the impact and cost of compensation and/or the costs of construction.

4.14. If a business needs to relocate, the Acquiring Authority should do what it can to help find a suitable alternative location for the business.

4.15. Where applicable the Acquiring Authority should explain to the people affected how any construction works may affect them. It should listen to any concerns and alleviate the impact where possible.

Residential properties

4.16. When seeking to acquire someone's home the Acquiring Authority should do what it can to help the person find suitable alternative accommodation. Where a landowner, or any affected party will become homeless or be at risk of homelessness as a result of the compulsory purchase, and it is assessed by the local authority that this homelessness is unintentional, the local authority has a statutory duty to provide them with settled accommodation and advice and assistance. When considering accommodation, the local authority should ensure that any accommodation offered is both sustainable ( e.g. will not cause any financial hardship) and appropriate to their needs.

Advance purchase

4.17. Rather than waiting until the end of the compulsory purchase process an owner might ask the Acquiring Authority to purchase the land earlier, on compulsory purchase terms [1] . Where possible, and particularly when acquiring residential land or property, the Acquiring Authority should grant such requests (See CPOGNAA/005 for more information).


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