At a former firm I was instructed in 2009 by EG West and Sons to raise an objection to the draft compulsory purchase order (CPO), which acquired 75 acres of their principal holding, 500 metres from the farmstead. While the family farmed other land (predominantly on contract and short lets), land take of around 50% of the main holding and associated disruption was a significant threat to their business and lifestyle.
With a strong objection we were able to negotiate the intricate detail of a long proposed land swap with the council-owned holding adjacent, let to another farmer. After exhaustive discussions the parties’ were ‘locked’ in a room and binding terms were signed at around 9pm the evening before our appearance at public inquiry the next day; not quite the ‘all-nighters’ that Brexit negotiators will become accustomed to, but close enough!
The scheme was eventually started in 2013. The client followed me to Carter Jonas and we settled the compensation claim with the acquiring authority in 2016. This included the transfer of a further 30 acres of council land to the client, whose farmstead is now ‘ring fenced’. The process, inevitably, has been drawn out and negotiations hard fought, but the client’s business has been protected and they have been properly compensated.
The key to a satisfactory outcome was finding a way to mitigate the impact of the scheme early and during the design phase, rather than relying on compensation after the event. The case speaks to how essential it is to engage as early as possible with the CP process; never assume its too early to instruct your agent. In this case an early instruction meant a bespoke solution could be agreed with an authority (and their agents) sufficiently open-minded and pragmatic enough to deliver it.