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VIEWS SOUGHT ON OUTCOME OF COMPULSORY PURCHASE REVIEW

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The government is inviting views on the final recommendations of the ...
The government is inviting views on the final recommendations of the

advisory group set up to undertake a fundamental review of the laws

and procedures relating to compulsory purchase, compensation and the

disposal of compulsorily acquired land.

Views are also being sought on the operation of the Crichel Down

rules which require most land compulsorily acquired by a Crown body

to be offered back first to the original owner (or his natural

successor) if it becomes surplus to requirements.

In answer to a parliamentary question Nick Raynsford said:

'I am pleased to be able to announce that my department has

published two reports. The first sets out the final recommendations

of the advisory group set up in June 1998 to undertake a Fundamental

Review of Compulsory Purchase Laws, Procedures and Compensation. The

second sets out the findings of Gerald Eve and the University of

Reading on the operation of the Crichel Down rules.

'We are publishing the findings of the advisory group in order to

give interested parties an opportunity to comment before we in

government prepare our own response. The response will also take into

account the many views which we have already received, including

those from the Urban Task Force, on ways in which the compulsory

purchase system might be improved. It is unlikely that any compulsory

purchase arrangements could please everyone, but I welcome this

opportunity for debate both to help clarify key concerns and to

indicate the level of consensus likely to be achievable.

'The advisory group have said that they consider that the current

compulsory purchase arrangements are basically sound. However, they

have identified a number of ways in which the existing procedures

could be speeded up and the compensation provisions made simpler,

more equitable and quicker to apply. They also explored the scope for

using existing compulsory purchase powers for regeneration purposes.

The group concluded that, although local authorities could make

greater use of their existing powers than most of them currently seem

prepared to do, there would be advantage in clarifying the position

by making an appropriate specific statutory provision.

'The group found no justification for making any additional blanket

payments over and above market value to compensate for the compulsory

purchase of all properties, but they do suggest a proposal for

'business-loss' payments aimed at small businesses and payable on a

similar basis to the current 'home-loss' payments. They also propose

a power for those whose property is being compulsorily acquired which

would enable them to serve the equivalent of a 'notice to treat' on

the acquiring authority; and one of their other suggestions is that

acquiring authorities should have explicit powers to ensure that, in

tightly defined circumstances in areas where local collapses in the

property market have resulted in very low open market values,

owner-occupiers can be providedwith adequate replacement housing.

'Turning to the operation of the Crichel Down rules, the government

acknowledges the shortcomings which the researchers have identified.

They have confirmed the suspicions, which led to the commissioning of

the research, that the current arrangements are not working well and,

again, we need to establish a dialogue. We therefore invite views not

only on the detailed operation of the rules but also on such

fundamental concepts as the purpose of the rules, whether they are

needed at all and, if so, whether they should be statutory and to

which bodies they should apply.

We look forward to receiving views on the two reports. All comments

received by my department by Friday 13 October 2000 will be taken

into account in preparing the government's response. That will

represent the second stage of the Fundamental Review and, as a third

stage, we will then consult formally on those proposals.'

NOTES

1. The Final Report of the Compulsory Purchase Policy Advisory

Group is available free from DETR Free Literature, PO Box 236,

Wetherby, West Yorkshire LS23 7NB, (tel: 0870 1226 236, fax: 0870

1226 237). The Report on the operation of the Crichel Down Rules

is available, at£28, from the DETR Publications Sales Centre,

Unit 21, Goldthorpe Industrial Estate, Goldthorpe, Rotherham S63

9BL, (tel: 01709 891318, fax: 01709 881673). Both reports are available on the DETR

website.

2. Comments are invited on both reports, and should be sent to

PICD(b) Division, Floor 4/H2, Eland House, Bressenden Place,

London SW1P 5DU by no later than 13 October 2000.

3. DETR ministers announced the Fundamental Review into the Laws

and Procedures relating to compulsory purchase and compensation in

the House of Commons on 11 June 1998 (Hansard col.631). The Review has been undertaken by an

advisory group of eminent lawyers, surveyors, planners, academics,

landowners and representatives of local authorities and the

utilities, charged with making recommendations for revising the

compulsory purchase and compensation system in order to make it

'more efficient, more effective and fairer to all parties'. The

advisory group's interim report was published in January 1999 and

their final report builds on their earlier identification of the

need to consolidate and codify statute and case law, to improve

administrative practice and to provide clearer guidance to

acquiring authorities.

4. The Crichel Down rules were first issued in 1954, following a

public local inquiry into the circumstances which led to a

decision taken by the then minister of agriculture and fisheries

in 1952 to let crown land in Dorset instead of allowing the family

of the original owner to buy or lease it back. The rules have

since been revised on a number of occasions. The current Crichel

Down rules were issued in 1992. They provide that, subject to

certain exceptions, if and when land which was acquired by a Crown

body with compulsory purchase powers becomes surplus to the

crown's requirements, the land must be offered back to the

original owner (or natural successor) at the current open market

value. All government departments are required to follow the

rules. In the case of other bodies with compulsory purchase

powers, such as local authorities and utilities, the general

principles underlying the rules are also commended for application

where appropriate.

The department has been aware for some time of concern about the

operation of the Crichel Down rules. Some argue that the rules

should be abolished, others that the rules should be amended and

extended to non-Crown bodies. However, although the terms of

reference of the advisory group appointed to undertake the

Fundamental Review included a consideration of the arrangements

for the disposal of compulsorily acquired land, it soon became

clear to the group that such a task could only be fulfilled once

detailed information about all aspects of the operation of the

Crichel Down rules had been collected and analysed. The department

therefore commissioned Gerald Eve and the University of Reading to

undertake such a study and is now inviting comments on their

findings and recommendations.

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