Tomorrow marks the 40th anniversary of the publication of the Hitchhiker’ Guide to the Galaxy.
*Spoiler alert*. For those who haven’t read the book (or watched film, or watched the TV series or listened to the radio play…), Arthur Dent is forced to leave his home as Earth is due to be destroyed to make way for an intergalactic bypass.
So, in a rather tenuous link, here are five facts about compulsory purchase orders.
1. “But the plans were on display…”
Compulsory purchase orders allow public bodies such as local planning authorities, highway authorities, utility companies and regeneration agencies to carry out their functions and legal obligations, e.g. delivering on improvements to the national road network.
The power of compulsory purchase allows the public body to obtain property from a private individual without their consent in exchange for a compensation payment.
2. “Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.”
Once a compulsory purchase order has been confirmed, a notice must be issued in the press.The Order must then be acted on by the public body within three years.
3. “So long, and thanks for all the fish”
Compulsory purchases have been around in one form or another since the early 17th century.Between 1604 and 1914, it is estimated that there were well over 5,000 instances of what we would now recognise as ‘compulsory purchase orders’.
These were often used to take common land into private ownership of barons and landlords but were also used to build the railway network during the industrial revolution, for social welfare projects (such as poorhouses) during Victorian times and for military use during the First World War.
4. “Don’t Panic”
Individuals whose property interests are affected by a compulsory purchase order are entitled to compensation.The compensation is based on the value of the land, if it had been sold on an open market by a willing seller. However, compensation should also take into account losses that are not directly based on the value of the land such as distress and discomfort and professional fees.
5. “Nothing travels faster than the speed of light with the possible exception of bad news”
According to reports and estimates, the HS2 project (the UK’s planned high-speed railway) will eventually result in close to 50,000 compulsory purchase notices being served which are likely to affect close to 10,000 individuals and businesses.The cost of compensation payments was initially assessed to be £1.12 billion but has since been revised to nearly triple that amount (£3.356 billion).
If you are looking for The Answer to any of your legal problems, Dutton Gregory can navigate you through the rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty to find it (n.b. it’s unlikely to be 42).
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