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01 August 2019

BDB Pitmans acts in successful defence against a Compulsory Purchase Order

BDB Pitmans has successfully defended a client exposed to a compulsory purchase order which sought to acquire the company’s land for development of a Science Park in Harlow.

The Secretary of State, through his delegate Inspector, found in favour of our client, Powerrapid Limited and decided not to confirm the CPO on grounds of prematurity and alternative solutions.

Harlow District Council, the Acquiring Authority, made the CPO and sought its confirmation on the grounds that our client’s land was required for the development of Harlow Science Park as soon as possible. It would also provide certainty regarding marketing the Science Park as a whole. The Council and our client had been unable to reach agreement on a voluntary sale.

On Powerrapid’s behalf, Counsel Andrew Tait QC, argued that the Order had been made prematurely and that alternatives to compulsory purchase existed, including development of the land by Powerrapid itself, consistent with the Council’s planning proposals.

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

‘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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