Karen Walsh: All for ‘common good’ but landowners are affected by CPO

With new roads more and more landowners will have to come to terms with compulsory purchase orders.

Have you been served with a compulsory purchase order (CPO)? Are you unsure what to do?

New roads, gas pipelines and ESB cables planned throughout the country will mean that more and more landowners will have to come to terms with these complex procedures.

The CPO procedure was brought into place for the “common good”.

However, in serving the “common good” the interests of landowners are affected.

How do I know if my land is to be the subject of a CPO?

You will be served with a notice. Newspaper notices will also be published.

What can I do then?

You can object on planning and/or legal grounds.

A public local enquiry is held, where affected parties can have their views heard.

Then the Minister can confirm, vary, or turn down the CPO. A decision will be published.

If the Minister confirms the CPO, what can I do?

There are limited grounds to appeal through the High Court.

You can only challenge the decision on a point of law.

You have three weeks to challenge the decision from the date it is made.

If I do not appeal, what happens next?

The acquiring authority serves what is known as a “Notice to Treat”.

In effect, this requests the land owner to enter into discussions regarding the acquisition of the property.

At what date is the property valued?

The date of the Notice to Treat.

What should I do if I get a Notice to Treat? How long do I have to respond?

The Notice to Treat will require you to submit details of your claim within a specified period.

It is important to observe this time limit.

You can provide further and updated details of claims at a later stage, depending on advice received. If you own property which is about to be compulsorily acquired by a state body or authority, then it is important that you react quickly.

What can I claim compensation for?

The assessment of compensation will generally fall under a number of headings of claim, which can include the following:

* Value of land acquired.

* Diminution in value of retained lands, if any.

* Costs resulting from acquisition.

* Disturbance.

* Loss of profit or goodwill.

* Loss or depreciation of stock or trade.

* Professional fees necessary for acquisition. The acquiring authority normally pays the claimant’s reasonable chartered valuation surveyor’s fees, and the claimant’s reasonable legal fees.

The affected landowner should be in no better or no worse position after the acquisition has been finalised.

Is the land assessed at its current market value or development value?

The landowner is entitled to the market value of his land at the date of the Notice to Treat.

The market value can be based either on the existing use value of the land or its development value, whichever is the greater.

Knowing when to claim development value, and just what is necessary to prove it, are vital.

Where existing use value is being claimed, the landowner may be entitled to compensation for disturbance and severance.

It can arise also that the completed development has a negative effect on the value of the retained land.

If so, compensation for injurious affection, as it is called, may also form part of the claim.

Another possibility to consider is that the acquiring authority purchase the retained land.

Development value can be claimed only where development potential can be proven to exist.

Often, such claims present enormous difficulties, and confusion.

The legislation states that the compensation claim must be assessed in “the no-scheme world”.

In other words, disregard the fact that there is a new road to be built.

Would the land have development potential irrespective of the new roadway?

If so, then development potential can be claimed.

Of course, this potential must be proven, as with all other aspects of the claim.

* Read next week’s column for more information on CPOs


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