Local authorities are increasing their use of Compulsory Purchase Orders to help drive development, research by a North law firm suggests.
The figures compiled by Bond Dickinson - which has offices in Newcastle and Teesside as well as elsewhere in the country - show that the use of CPOs increased by two thirds in 2014 with 58 applications compared to just 36 in 2013.
CPOs are a powerful indicator of improving economic confidence, with orders often made when the public and private sectors are coming together on major development schemes.
Bond Dickinson said the renewed use of CPOs was encouraging, though the level is still short of pre-recession activity.
Frank Orr, legal director at Bond Dickinson’s Newcastle office, said: “The report reveals a positive rise in the use of Planning CPOs compared with the previous year and consistently high success rates. This significant recovery in the number of Planning CPOs submitted in 2014 from a low in 2013 may be a positive indicator of returning confidence in an economic upturn.”
“If that trend continues then we would anticipate a continued uplift in the use of Planning CPOs through 2015, as authorities seek to facilitate a range of development projects, however there is still some way to go to match pre-recession levels.”
“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.”
“Our report’s findings support the recognition by Government that compulsory purchase is an effective tool for delivering socio-economic and environmental change and regeneration.
“There is scope and need for improving delivery of properly made CPOs and the recently proposed streamlining of processes and decision-making timescales are to be welcomed”.
The Bond Dickinson research found that more than 95% of CPOs made in the last two years were either confirmed or facilitated acquisition by agreement.
Given the high success rates of CPOs, the report says, there is scope for greater use by those authorities that already use the powers and for other authorities to consider their use.
But where orders fail, the reasons include technical drafting errors, the availability of alternative solutions, falling short of the need for compulsory acquisition and a failure to demonstrate that all land covered by the order was needed.
Mr Orr first authored a major report the use and effectiveness of compulsory purchase in 2010 in association with the Northern Way. The report was updated in 2012.