Draft guidance published to help development corporations CPO land

BUDGET 2018: Ministers may sign off compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) to help deliver new towns where proposals are not 'fully worked up', according to draft guidance on the use of such powers by development corporations.

Development land: consultation published on CPO guidance
Development land: consultation published on CPO guidance

Alongside yesterday's Budget, the government published a consultation on draft guidance on CPO use by new town development corporations.

CPOs made by such corporations are subject to approval by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

The document says that current CPO guidance does not cover the compulsory purchase powers of new town development corporations.

It states: "This creates potential uncertainty about how decisions on whether to approve compulsory purchase orders will be taken by the confirming minister, which may lead to delays and deter local authorities who may wish to promote a locally led new town.

"Addressing this in the guidance will provide additional clarity for all stakeholders, including promoters, investors, infrastructure providers, landowners and local communities."

The document sets out, amongst other things, the factors which ministers will take into account when deciding whether or not to confirm new town compulsory purchase orders.

These factors would include whether "the purpose(s) for which the order lands are being acquired by the new town development corporation fits in with the planning framework for the new town area", and whether the development corporation "has satisfactorily demonstrated that the order lands are needed to support the overall development of the new town".

The document also says that, "given their scale, new towns are likely to be developed over an extended period of time, during which market conditions may change".

It says that, "in this context, the secretary of state recognises that it will not always be possible or desirable for new town development corporations to have fully worked up, and secured approval for, detailed development proposals prior to proceeding with a compulsory purchase order".

It adds that, "where a new town development corporation does not have detailed proposals for the order lands, it will still be expected to demonstrate a compelling case for acquisition in the context of the planning framework that will guide development of the new town".

The consultation runs until 14 January 2019. 

Jonathan Stott, chair of the Compulsory Purchase Association (CPA) said: "Of all of the tools in a new town development corporation’s toolbox, wide-ranging compulsory purchase powers will perhaps be the most important and most influential in terms of how successful the corporations are in delivering against their objectives. The CPA welcomes the consultation about how decisions will be taken in relation to CPOs to facilitate new towns, and it is particularly helpful that the draft guidance is largely consistent with the guidance that already exists for urban development corporations.

"The wide definition within the guidance of ‘the scheme’ for any new towns, read together with the planning assumptions that apply under the compensation code, will ensure that land for new towns will be capable of being assembled without corporations paying excessive compensation to landowners. In most cases, as with other cases where compulsory purchase powers are used, it is highly likely that the majority of land for new towns will be acquired based on existing use values if the draft guidance is adopted."

A development corporation chief told the Planning for Housing conference earlier this month that councils need to make more use of compulsory purchase order powers to deliver new housing in urban areas. 

In June, a Tory think-tank said that government should "give councils new compulsory purchase order (CPO) powers and borrowing capacity so they can buy land and put more development into planned new villages, towns and cities".

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