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Objecting to a compulsory purchase order (CPO)

This page explains how you'll know if the council is applying for a compulsory purchase order (CPO), what compulsory purchase powers they have and how you can object if you aren't happy about this. The council may try to arrange to buy your house voluntarily, to avoid having to go through the CPO process.

How will I know if the council is applying for a CPO?

Before submitting an application for a CPO, the council must find out who owns and lives on the land it needs to buy. This means that someone from the council will probably write to you, asking you for a list of people living in your home, and whether they are owners or tenants. If the council isn't sure who owns or lives in a property, it will address the letters to 'The Owner' and 'The Occupier'.

The council should also advertise the proposed CPO in a prominent place, for example, on a lamppost outside the property. If a lot of people are likely to be affected by the plans, the council may arrange a special exhibition or meeting to inform residents about its proposals.

The council will then send you an official notice explaining:

  • why it needs to buy your home
  • where you can see a full copy of the CPO and a map showing the area it affects
  • how long you've got to object (this must be at least 21 days) and how you can do this (see 'how do I object' below).

The council should also put an advertisement in at least one local newspaper, setting out the same information.

If the council is applying for a CPO because your home is substandard or about to be demolished, you should be told whether you're entitled to a well maintained payment - this is a form of compensation for having kept your home in good repair.

What happens when the CPO is passed to a Scottish Minister?

If the council is unable to arrange a voluntary sale, it will then submit the application for the CPO to the relevant Scottish Minister, for confirmation. The Minister will need to wait until the time limit for making objections has expired before making a decision. Usually, they make their decision within two months but they can take up to 18 months.

If there are no objections, the Minister will confirm the order (see 'what happens if the Scottish Minister confirms the order' below). Otherwise, a public inquiry may be held.

When confirming the CPO, the Minister has the power to alter the order, although Ministers can't increase the area or the number of properties to be bought. However, they may decide that some properties should not be included in the CPO.

Can I object to a CPO?

Yes. You can object to a CPO if any of the following apply:

  • you are the owner, tenant or occupier of a property subject to a CPO (unless your tenancy runs for less than a month, or you are a non-tenant occupier living in a hostel or supported accommodation)
  • you will be affected by the CPO, for example, you live near the planned work and will be affected by the building work or by the way in which the area will change as a result of the CPO
  • you have an issue with the work to be carried out, for example, you are opposed to the environmental or social consequences of the council's plan.

Owners, tenants and occupiers are known as 'statutory objectors'. Other people opposed to the CPO are known as 'third party' or 'non-statutory objectors'.

How do I object?

The notice sent by the council should explain how long you have to make objections (this should be at least 21 days) and how to go about doing so. If you're a third party objector, you can find this out through the notices posted at the site or in the local paper.

Objections must be made in writing, and should be sent to the Scottish Minister named on the notice. You may wish to get together with your neighbours to put in a joint objection, or submit your objections through your local tenants' or residents' association, or through an organisation such as Friends of the Earth. Joint objections are likely to carry more weight than individual objections, but bear in mind you may only have 21 days to get organised. It's a good idea to send your objection letter by recorded delivery - this means that you'll have proof that you sent it.

What should I say when I object?

There is no prescribed way of laying out objections, but you should include:

  • your name and address
  • whether you are an owner, tenant or occupier, or a third party objector.

Make sure you set out your points clearly, stick to the facts and back up what you say with as much evidence as possible. You may wish to consider:

  • the effect on the environment (for example, if the land is required for a new road or an airport extension, you could mention increased traffic, noise or pollution, or safety concerns)
  • the effect on the local community (for example, if run down housing is to be demolished and replaced by new housing, how will this affect the current residents? Will they be able to afford to remain in the area? Will there be enough services and public transport options for an influx of new residents?)
  • whether the work in question could be moved to another site (for example, to an area of waste ground without housing)
  • whether there is anything the council can do to lessen the impact the work has on you (for example, if the council wants to buy part of your garden to build a new road, you could suggest that trees are planted to shield you from the noise and traffic, or if new houses are being built, you could suggest that public transport to the area is improved).

If you need help making an objection, you can get free, independent advice from Planning Aid for Scotland, who can help you make your comments. You can also get help from your local Citizens Advice, and the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors Scotland (RICS), which offers advice on planning issues, including CPOs.

Can I withdraw an objection?

Someone from the council may well contact you to try to resolve your objection, for example, by agreeing in writing to carry out additional work to lessen the impact of the project. In this case, you'll be asked to withdraw your objection. You can also withdraw your objection if you change your mind.

Can I object if I'm not happy with the money I've been offered?

If the only thing you're unhappy about is the price the council is offering you for your home and the compensation you're entitled to, you shouldn't submit an objection. Money matters are dealt with through a different process - read the page on compulsory purchase order price to find out more.

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The important points

  • Before submitting an application for a compulsory purchase order, the council must find out who owns and lives on the land.
  • The notice sent by the council should explain how long you have to make objections (this should be at least 21 days) and how to go about doing so.
  • Objections must be made in writing, and should be sent to the Scottish Minister named on the notice.
  • Make sure you set out your points clearly, stick to the facts and back up what you say with as much evidence as possible.

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