Housing and Planning Bill
I think I am the first Chair of the Compulsory Purchase Association to face a major Bill including CPO reform being published within 24 hours of taking over the reins!
I thought it appropriate to send a short note to the Association's members, reflecting on the publication of the Housing and Planning Bill. A sub-group of your Committee has been involved in extensive discussions with the Department of Communities and Local Government for some months and our work is in part reflected in the Bill's content.
Much of the Bill's contents will have come as no surprise to you, given the Technical Consultation on Compulsory Purchase in March. CPA provided extensive responses to that document, in which your Reform Group was hugely aided by a significant level of contribution from the membership.
A copy of the Bill presented to Parliament can be found here:
A copy of our response to the technical consultation can be found here:
INITIAL VIEWS ON THE BILL
It would be fair to say that, although CLG has engaged with us, the Bill's current content on compulsory purchase does not entirely reflect the position of the Association. This can be seen from our responses on the Technical Consultation.
Whilst the Reform Group members had an idea of what might be in the Bill, we had not seen the text before its publication on Tuesday. We will continue to work with CLG to try to shape the proposals – and there is no doubt that CLG do respect the Association's views. We think there is a lot of work to be done on some of the proposals. We do not agree with some of the Bill's content.
We are now seeking to engage with CLG, industry, key stakeholder groups, and most importantly you our members, on the contents of the Bill. I have asked CLG for a meeting and indicated that we will be providing comments on the Bill.
SUMMARY OF OUR INITIAL THOUGHTS
New survey powers
We have been campaigning for wider survey powers to be available for persons engaged in promoting compulsory purchase. The inclusion of this wider power in the Bill is to be welcomed but we do have concerns on the detail, particularly regarding enforcement powers.
Clear timetables for compulsory purchase
The principles are welcomed and we have been campaigning for the change. As the detail will be in Regulations we will need to see what the timetables actually look like.
Exercising CPO powers
Again the principles are largely to be welcomed in terms of clarifying when compulsory powers are available after confirmation of a CPO. We will be reviewing the detail. Harmonisation of time periods for taking possession is perhaps the most controversial issue in the relevant sections of the Bill and there are bound to be diverging views on whether a 3 month time period for taking entry is likely to be too much of a burden for acquiring authorities.
Greater certainty for occupiers, both in relation to extended time periods for notices of entry and also in allowing claimants to impose an entry date if entry has not been taken after the stated entry date perhaps provides a more appropriate balance in the possession process.
Confirmation by Inspectors
We indicated our opposition to this in our consultation response and the Committee remains of the view that this is not a reform we should support.
High Court Orders
We have campaigned for the court to be able to quash Order confirmation only, and not the making of an Order, in appropriate circumstances and welcome this proposal.
Reform to advance payments
This has been a change that we have long been advocating, albeit again the detail in the Bill is extensive and we need to work through it before providing a considered response.
Material detriment processes
This is one area where CPA's approach is the opposite to that but has appeared in the Bill. We had advocated that the moratorium on taking possession of part, whilst material detriment issues were resolved, is not appropriate. We will continue to seek to persuade Government that ours is the right course of action and that the first draft of the Bill is not an appropriate change.
This drafting needs detailed analysis but clearly would give acquiring authorities and their successors more freedom to use land once acquired. Whether it is appropriate as a power in every case where expropriation takes place will no doubt be a source of debate both within and outside of the Association.
Finally, I could not resist highlighting the rather inelegant piece of modern legislative drafting in clause 139 which states that schedule 11 "gets rid of legislation" replaced by clauses 137 and 138!
A REVIEW OF THE SUMMARY OF COMPULSORY PURCHASE PROVISIONS IN THE HOUSING AND PLANNING BILL 2015
There are 29 provisions in the Bill. Click here to review them.
We will be seeking to meet with CLG and discuss our thoughts shortly. On that basis, if you do have comments on the Bill then please do provide them as soon as you can.
So if you have initial thoughts on the content of the bill please do let the Association have them. You can email them to the Association at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I will provide another note when I have a clearer idea of the Bill's timetable through Parliament and will comment on those points we seek to influence in the emerging legislation.
Many thanks for your support.
Chairman, Compulsory Purchase Association