Compulsory purchase orders and acquiring authorities: guidance on CPO use

CPOGNAA/001 First in a series of guidance notes intended to provide information for acquiring authorities with no, or limited experience of compulsory purchase on how to use CPOs.

Guidance for Acquiring Authorities

To: Acquiring Authorities
Subject: Guidance for Acquiring Authorities: Can I use Compulsory Purchase?
Ref No: CPOGNAA/001
Issued by: Scottish Government: Planning and Architecture Division

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.

In particular Ministers consider compulsory purchase powers to be important for helping to deliver housing, development and regeneration that create high quality places where people want to live, work and invest. Such projects will deliver social, economic and environmental improvement for the public benefit and, used properly, these powers can aid effective and efficient regeneration, the revitalisation of communities, and the promotion of inclusive economic growth.

Authorities are therefore encouraged to consider using their powers pro-actively when necessary and appropriate to ensure real gains are brought to communities without delay.

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.”

This series of guidance notes are primarily aimed at Acquiring Authorities and are intended to provide information for those with no, or limited, experience of compulsory purchase. They comprise both good practice advice and guidance on the legal and procedural requirements that must be met at each stage of the Compulsory Purchase Order ( CPO) process.

These notes draw from and are intended to complement Planning Circular 6/2011 ( /publications/scottish-planning-series-planning-circular-6-2011-compulsory-purchase-orders/) which provides more detailed, technical advice on some aspects of the CPO process and which authorities may wish to continue to refer to.

These notes are intended to be read sequentially as follows:

  • CPOGNAA/001 Can I use Compulsory Purchase?
  • CPOGNAA/002 What should I do before developing a Compulsory Purchase Order?
  • CPOGNAA/003 How do I prepare and submit a Compulsory Purchase Order?
  • CPOGNAA/004 How do Scottish Ministers consider a Compulsory Purchase Order?
  • CPOGNAA/005 Confirmed Orders – Next Steps

This first note in the series is intended to help Acquiring Authorities who are considering land purchase understand whether or not they can use compulsory purchase powers and, if so, the key steps in the process and the questions that they will need to address in order to progress an order.

Whilst the general advice, guidance and principles contained in these notes are applicable to all bodies with compulsory purchase powers, it should be noted that Compulsory Purchase Orders promoted by Scottish Ministers or their Agencies are processed under distinct procedures which, while broadly similar, may differ in some regards. Furthermore, certain bodies can be empowered to purchase land compulsorily through special Acts of Parliament, or via other processes (e.g. through Transport and Works Act Orders).

Where necessary this guidance therefore identifies instances where aspects of the process vary, but it does not seek to be comprehensive. Separate guidance is available for these specialist processes – for example for compulsory purchase related to Trunk Road projects promoted by Transport Scotland (

This guidance is not intended to be either prescriptive or definitive. It is also not intended to replace specialist legal advice.


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