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CPO Talking Heads April 2023: Temporary Possession Powers

Temporary Possession Powers: Does the land assembly industry deserve them, should DCO and CPO projects be treated differently, and will the government enable them?

This event runs as an informal discussion with a small panel of leading and informed practitioners extracting the nuances from this months topic "Temporary Possession Powers". It will discuss practical issues that arise, with participants in the meeting being encouraged to listen, join in, ask questions and share comments.

Module Duration: 1 hour 6 minutes

Recorded: 17/04/2023

Areas covered

The CPA have partnered with CPT Events to bring you CPO Talking Heads.

The Government legislated for Temporary Possession powers in the Neighbourhood Planning Act 2017, yet to date, enabling legislation and Regulations have failed to be brought forward so the provisions are not enacted for CPOs. There is a view that the legislation already passed is deemed incendiary between advisors representing promoters/acquiring authorities and those representing parties affected. Yet Parliament has voted for the powers, they are enshrined in the law; does the Government have a duty to enable them? The benefits on which they were brought forward remain unfulfilled. Is this a waste of parliamentary time?

Historically, CPO schemes have not had such powers; where land was required temporarily it was a case of take land permanently but offering it back at completion, or leaving the contractor to reach private treaty agreements for possession of site compounds and the like. But those using hybrid bills and the DCO consenting regime can secure land temporarily and have done so extensively. At present, promoters are regulated through the wording in the DCO. They can usually take land they seek temporarily ahead of taking it permanently and for any duration they choose. The state of the land when it is returned is also prescribed by the DCO. Is there scope for a misuse of this power? There are those who say such powers support lazy and delayed design of schemes. Others would say that it’s better for the promoter to have too much land so they can navigate design stresses and strains that arise in the development of a scheme. Whilst reducing some of the risks of the scheme, where does it leave those affected? Landowners and their occupiers are left in limbo without any recourse through law to control the outcomes affecting them – exactly what the Act sought to codify and impose standards of behaviours. 

Any compulsory purchase project has to balance the public benefit and private harm and must have significant regard for those affected with acquiring authorities and promoters needing to engage and protect those adversely affected. Do DCOs have a different benchmark? The legislation was drafted to create a common approach, or should there be different rules according to what powers are being used?

The CPA board had a hot discussion on these issues and whether the CPA seek to decouple the powers, so that DCOs and CPOs can progress differently and enable the powers to be enacted. This event seeks to share that debate with members and the marketplace. 

A question for all who attend - should temporary possession powers be enacted and, if so, on what basis?

February's Talking Heads