Significant legal changes to make the system of compulsory purchase fairer were on the agenda as the CLA met Communities and Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis MP this week.
The meeting, which is an important milestone in the CLA’s long running campaign for reform of the cumbersome, outdated and deeply unfair system of compulsory purchase, was focused on the changes to be enacted in the Housing and Planning Bill which is entering the last phase of Parliamentary debate this month.
The most recent achievement is a new proposal that will require those acquiring land by compulsory purchase to pay a new penal rate of interest, to be set at 8% as suggested by the CLA, if they fail to pay the person from whom they acquire land on time.
CLA President Ross Murray said: “Our persistence on the issue of compulsory purchase reform has led to a series of breakthroughs. This most recent one on penalty rate of interest will end the practice of authorities acquiring land but failing to pay the affected business for many years. This is a very real problem that places the affected business under immediate financial pressure and makes it impossible to move on and rebuild lives and businesses.
“Our campaign is far from over, and that is our message to the Minister. There is still much to do to ensure the system of compulsory purchase is fairer and reduces the harm and distress it causes to farmers and other businesses. Our top priority is to secure a fundamental legal obligation that imposes a Duty of Care on those that acquire land through compulsory purchase. Only by putting in place this legal obligation, enforced by an independent ombudsman, will we see genuine fairness and efficiency introduced to the system.”
Mr Murray also confirmed that the CLA was continuing its work to support businesses affected by the HS2 project: “The CLA has submitted a petition to the House of Lords as part of our ongoing work to ensure HS2 Ltd treats those who face disruption to their homes and business fairly and that they benefit from the right legal protections.”