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.

5. Compulsory Purchase where the Acquiring Authority will not develop the land itself

5.1. Acquiring Authorities can, in some circumstances, undertake the compulsory purchase of the land needed for the project but then rely on a third party (including the private sector) to undertake the development of the land and/or deliver the underlying project. Where this is the case the responsibility for obtaining confirmation of and implementing the CPO and then ensuring the project is delivered appropriately, remains with the Acquiring Authority .

Back to Back Agreements

5.2. So called ‘back to back’ agreements are where an Acquiring Authority transfers land acquired compulsorily to a third party for them to take forward the development.

5.3. A back to back agreement can be initiated either by the third party or by the Acquiring Authority. Acquiring Authorities are encouraged to seek such agreements where there is a clear public interest in doing so and it will enable projects to proceed that otherwise would not.

5.4. Certain enabling Acts permit an Acquiring Authority to dispose of the land to a third party after acquisition through a back to back agreement. Acquiring Authorities will therefore wish to check whether this is permitted under the powers being used. Where permitted, this may involve:

  • A third party approaching an Acquiring Authority to assist them in assembling land for a project they consider to be in the public interest; or
  • The Acquiring Authority disposing of the land to a community group or other third party to carry out the Acquiring Authority’s purpose.

5.5. When considering the disposal of land to a third party an Acquiring Authority should at a minimum satisfy itself that:

  • No better solution exists;
  • The developer has been unable to acquire the land through any other means;
  • The developer can demonstrate it has actively engaged with the affected community. This should include land owners and all those directly or indirectly likely to be impacted by any proposed development;
  • The developer can demonstrate a clear link to and/or compliance with a relevant plan or strategy;
  • The developer can demonstrate the clear public interest in the development proceeding; and
  • No procurement or State Aid issues arise, and if they do, that these can be complied with.

5.6. As noted in paragraph 5.1, in the event that land is transferred to a third party, the Acquiring Authority will fully remain responsible for implementation of the CPO, taking ownership of the land and ensuring that the project is delivered appropriately.


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