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15 July 2019

Harlow District Council (London Road North) Compulsory Purchase Order 2018

Successful defence to a compulsory purchase Order

The Inspector, acting as delegate of the Secretary of State, found in favour of our client, Powerrapid Limited, and decided not to confirm this Order.

Harlow DC, the Acquiring Authority represented by Guy Roots QC, argued that the Order was justified, and should be confirmed, (i) to ensure that our client’s land was made available for the development of Harlow Science Park as soon as possible, (ii) to provide certainty regarding marketing the Science Park as a whole, and (iii) because of the failure to acquire our client’s land by negotiation. Our client, Powerrapid, represented by Andrew Tait QC, argued inter alia that the Order had been made prematurely and that alternatives to compulsory purchase existed, including development of the land, consistent with the Council’s planning proposals, itself.

The Inspector held that a compelling case for development of the Order land in the short term had not been made out by the Council. Whilst it had taken reasonable steps to acquire the land by means other than compulsory purchase, other options remained to be explored, and so compulsory purchase had yet to become the last resort. The Inspector held that:

‘An alternative to compulsory acquisition existed since there is a reasonable prospect that the objector will develop the land itself for the purposes set out in the Order in response to occupier demand. In these circumstances, it would be premature to use CPO powers to acquire the Order land at this time.’

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