Court blocks forced purchase

Herefordshire Council has triumphed in a complex legal challenge to a judge's order that could effectively have forced it to buy property.

The council would have had to make the purchase on the basis that refusal of planning consent for the property rendered it useless.

Earlier this year, Richard White, of Chandos Farm, Rushall, Ledbury, owner of the property at 83 Tower Hill, Upper Dormington, had won a ruling from a Lands Tribunal judge that notices he had served on the council in respect of the property were valid.

The Lands Tribunal ruled that they were and in those circumstances that it was entitled to rule on his compensation claim.

Now though London's Court of Appeal has overturned that decision in a ruling which effectively blocks Mr White's compensation claim.

Mr White sought compensation for the derelict property, after he was refused planning permission in September 2002 to re-develop for residential use.

He claimed that the land was "incapable of reasonable beneficial use in its existing state", and that unless he received planning consent, it was useless.

In those circumstances he claimed that the council, which had refused planning permission, should pay him compensation in respect of the property.

However, a dispute then arose over the validity of notices he served on the council in respect of his claim.

In a preliminary skirmish in the case the Lands Tribunal judge held that purchase notices seeking compensation which were at the centre of the legal battle were valid and that in those circumstances the Lands Tribunal was entitled to go ahead and decide his compensation claim.

Now though three of the country's most senior judges have ruled that the Lands Tribunal judge was wrong.

Lords Justice Dyson, Jacob and Latham held that the notices at the centre of the case were not valid.

They allowed an appeal by the Council against the Lands Tribunal ruling.

The decision is one which effectively blocks Mr White's bid to force it to pay compensation to him for the property.

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