Specialist planning solicitor, Catherine Hibbert, takes a look at recent developments concerning the A12 widening project between junctions 19 to 25.
The National Highways proposal to widen the A12 between Junctions 19 and 25 (The A12 Scheme) was the subject of a public examination which took place between March and July 2023; The Examining Authority issued its Recommendation Report to the Secretary of State in October 2023, and a Government decision regarding the A12 Scheme is therefore anticipated anytime from 12 January 2024. National Highways anticipate that if the proposal is confirmed, the A12 Scheme will deliver improved safety for road users, reduce traffic congestion, increase the future capacity of the road network, remove long distance traffic from local roads and introduce improvements for walkers, cyclists, horse riders and public transport users by providing them with better connections and safer, more enjoyable journeys.
If successful, a Development Consent Order (A12 DCO) will be issued which will authorise National Highways to construct and use the A12 Scheme. This A12 DCO will confer powers of compulsory acquisition on National Highways as well as the power to stop up and divert existing highways and public rights of way. Around 836 hectares of land is required for the A12 Scheme; owners and occupiers of the land affected by the A12 Scheme will already have received formal notices and correspondence from the promoters to put them on notice of these proposals. Some landowners have participated in the examination; others may have already started negotiations with National Highways regarding the sale of their interests.
As and when the A12 DCO is confirmed, affected landowners can expect National Highways to start the process of land assembly in earnest through the formal exercise of their powers of compulsory acquisition.
Subject to any legal challenge which may be pursued against the grant of the A12 DCO, it will not be possible for affected landowners to resist the compulsory acquisition of their interests; National Highways will have the right to acquire their property and the landowner will instead have a financial claim for compensation. The quantum of this claim will be governed by a set of rules and principles known as’ The Compensation Code’, the aim of which is to put landowners into a position of equivalence, ie they should be no better or worse off than if the A12 DCO with its compulsory purchase powers had not been confirmed.
Broadly, owner-occupiers should expect to receive a compensation package based on:
There are specific principles which govern the position for lawful occupiers, business premises etc.
Update: 12th January 2024
The Secretary of State has, today 12th Janaury 2024, confirmed the A12 Chelmsford to A120 Widening Development Consent Order 2024 (‘the DCO’)
A copy of the Order, and the Recommendation Report, are available from the Planning Inspectorate website.
Subject to any Judicial Review the Order comes into force on 9 February 2024.
Update: 22 February 2024
It is understood that the period for legal challenge of the recently confirmed A12 Chelmsford to A120 Widening Scheme Development Consent Order is due to expire in the coming days. If no challenges have been lodged during this period, then it is anticipated that landowners affected by the proposals will start to receive further correspondence and information from National Highways as they move to initiate the process of land assembly ahead of the commencement of construction.
Holmes and Hills LLP has a team of dedicated solicitors with extensive experience in compulsory purchase orders and compensation matters. Please contact Mike Harman, Mel Francis or Catherine Hibbert if you have land affected by the A12 Scheme and need advice on your entitlement to compensation, the scope of your claim and your next steps.