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An introduction to compulsory purchase powers for development and infrastructure schemes

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This paper is an introduction to the history behind the use of compulsory purchase powers, its uses today by government agencies and utility providers, including objecting to their schemes, and comment on how these powers might be used in the future to deliver housing policy if the ‘open market approach’ fails. The Government’s use of compulsory purchase powers to enable infrastructure schemes to be completed took off in the 19th century with the expansion of the railway network, leading to the first major legislation to regularise the legal framework in 1845. Since then there have been multiple changes, including bespoke powers for the various utility providers (gas, water, electricity and telecoms). The basic principles behind property owners’ rights are common to all claims, known as the ‘Compensation Code’, but there are subtle, and at times, illogical differences in the detail of the approach to the valuation of losses. In the 1960s the Government used its powers of compulsory purchase to acquire land aggressively for the delivery of its housing policy, enabling more extensive construction of new homes than is being achieved today. The powers are there, and may be used again, to meet the Government’s ambitious housing policy targets.
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Keywords: CPO; CPO valuation; acquisition; compensation; compulsory

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2018

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  • Journal of Building Survey, Appraisal & Valuation is the essential peer-reviewed journal for building surveyors, structural engineers and other professionals concerned with building condition, defects, valuation, repair and maintenance.

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