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Submission of planning CPOs fell by 30% in 2016: research

Submissions of planning compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) decreased by 30% in 2016, research by Womble Bond Dickinson has found.

According to the law firm, there were 40 such applications during the year, compared to 57 in 2015 and 58 in 2014.

However this was still higher than the 36 submitted in 2013, which Womble Bond Dickinson said was the lowest level since 2003.

The research also found that housing CPOs fell from 54 submitted in 2015 to 39 in 2016. These figures are toward the lower end of the range of CPOs submitted annually in the years 2003-16 covered by the law firm’s previous research.

Womble Bond Dickinson said the success rates for both kinds of CPO remained high.

It said the figures indicated that for planning CPOs at least 87% in 2015 and 82% in 2016 succeeded. “This may be even higher when considering withdrawn CPOs due to acquisition by agreement.”

For housing CPOs the equivalent figures were at least 93% in 2015 and 94% in 2016. This level of success was consistent with previous years and demonstrated an established, long-term trend, the law firm suggested.

The regional hot spots for use of compulsory purchase submissions between 2003 – 2016 were the North West of England and London, followed by the West Midlands.

Womble Bond Dickinson noted that while many authorities had used their compulsory purchase powers, they did so sparingly. A relatively small number of authorities accounted for a significant proportion of CPOs made, it added.

The law firm said: “Given the high success rates of CPOs there is scope for greater use by those authorities that already use the powers and for other authorities to consider their use.

“However it is also worth noting why CPOs fail so that lessons can be learned. For housing CPOs a lot of these are fact specific but for planning CPOs reasons for them not being confirmed include: a failure to assess alternative schemes, planning permission not conclusive of need and Public Sector Equality Duty issues.”

Womble Bond Dickinson said the detail of the Aylesbury Estate decision (which is to be the subject of a new public inquiry) potentially opened the door to a much increased need to give weight to the personal circumstance of individual residents and their current community life when it could be difficult to elicit the information.

“Where a case is finely balanced the ‘benefit of doubt’ will rest with the objector. Hopefully greater clarity will flow from the new decision on that scheme,” it said.

Jonathan Bower, planning partner at Womble Bond Dickinson LLP, said: “Our fourth report echoes many of the key messages of previous reports: CPOs are a vital tool for regeneration, success rates for both planning and housing CPOs remain high and there are a range of reasons, from technical to evidential, why a small percentage of CPOs are not confirmed…..

"Acquiring authorities can take comfort from the good prospects of success but must use CPOs with care and pay close attention to the circumstances of each case to meet legal and policy requirements."

"The use of compulsory purchase requires a supporting policy base and it is most successful when there is strong political will to use the powers. The publication of the draft London Plan sets a framework for the future use of CPO powers in conjunction with the London boroughs to deliver new housing in particular."


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