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BDB Pitmans has acted for the successful claimants in Craddock and another v Secretary of State for Transport [2021] UKUT 0002 (LC).

The proceedings concerned a disputed blight notice relating to Phase 2a of the HS2 project, which the claimants had served in relation to their private residence.

The issue for determination by the Upper Tribunal was whether the Secretary of State had demonstrated that he did not intend to acquire part of the property as at the ‘material date’.

The Upper Tribunal applied case law and its previous decisions in holding that the Secretary of State had failed to discharge the evidential burden of proof on him. The Upper Tribunal observed that the evidence produced by the Secretary of State did not address his intention as at the ‘material date’, merely his apparent position some months later.

Accordingly, the Upper Tribunal upheld the claimants’ blight notice. The Secretary of State is now required to acquire their property and pay them compensation in accordance with the compensation code. The Tribunal also awarded the claimants some of their costs.

The decision is a comparatively rare example of the Upper Tribunal determining the validity of a disputed blight notice.

The case also provides a practical example of the use of the Upper Tribunal’s written representations procedure to resolve cases where there is no complex factual dispute or requirement for expert evidence, for example on valuation matters. In suitable cases, the written representations procedure may be advantageous for individual claimants who do not want to incur the costs associated with a conventional hearing.

Oliver Spencer, Senior Associate, and Ian McCulloch, Consultant, acted for the successful claimants, in collaboration with Tim Broomhead of Knight Frank. They instructed Caroline Daly of Francis Taylor Building to draft the written submissions to the Tribunal.

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