When plans for a new bypass go straight through your farm, do you have any recourse for help?
Although traffic jams and over-crowded trains can be a frustration to our daily lives, how would you feel if your local council said that they were going to need some of your property to widen a road or build a new train line?
“When authorities decide they are going to undertake large infrastructure works, they can use compulsory purchase powers to purchase land, or rights over land, that they need,” explains Peter Series of Savills Estate Management. Peter has been working with property owners affected by plans to turn the A9 trunk road in Perthshire into a dual carriageway. “It is important for landowners to consider the impact a scheme might have at an early stage of the process,” he says. “This includes the impact the works will have on the remainder of their property, not just the land they are losing.”
“Maintaining a dialogue with the Acquiring Authority throughout the design stage of a project is key,” says Peter. “This ensures that all of the aspects on the affected property have been considered. Make sure the Acquiring Authority has considered the full extent of your property or your business and highlight exactly how you are likely to be affected by the proposed scheme.”
A property owner who is having land acquired by Compulsory Purchase Order is entitled to compensation to ensure that they are left in “no worse position, as far as money can provide,” than they were before the scheme took place.
“Negotiating compensation is a complex process involving a number of different claimable items,” explains Sam Kirkness of Savills Estate Management who has been working with property owners affected by the A380 Kingskerswell bypass scheme in Devon.
“Property owners are often surprised about the detail that is required for a successful compensation claim,” he says. “It is important for a claimant to keep notes and receipts for all costs that are connected to the scheme: from the time spent at meetings to the costs of cleaning construction dirt off their vehicles.”
The first principle of compulsory purchase is that the Acquiring Authority must acquire the property at its open-market value. The valuation process is therefore key and depends on experience and knowledge of the local and national markets. A large-scale infrastructure scheme will have a profound effect on surrounding property values and this will be taken into account by the valuer.
In addition to paying compensation, an Acquiring Authority should also meet a claimant’s reasonable legal and professional fees and a formal undertaking should be sought from the outset.
There are further considerations to be made before a Compulsory Purchase Order is announced. Under certain circumstances a property owner can compel the Acquiring Authority to acquire their land if it has been “blighted” by the proposed development scheme.
In the example of farmland being acquired for a road scheme, the remaining land must be incapable of being farmed for the claimant to consider serving a Blight Notice.There are a number of other criteria for property owners to consider under the blight process and advice should be sought.
The compulsory purchase legislation has evolved to ensure that a claimant is compensated for any future disruption that the scheme will entail, but the Acquiring Authority will also propose Accommodation Works (see above) to mitigate the impact on the property. This can include tree planting, boundary fencing, noise-reduction materials and the construction of embankments.The type of works undertaken will vary from property to property and claimants should negotiate closely with the Acquiring Authority to get the best deal for their property.
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As the rural sector becomes increasingly diversified, rates have become an important factor for land and rural business owners and business occupiers. Current shortfalls in Government budgets are likely to mean that the rating potential of all properties will be closely scrutinised says Jonathan Guest Director of Savills rural.
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