Planning Law solicitors specialising in advising property, land and business owners regarding Blight and Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) claims.
Holmes & Hills Solicitors works in partnership with and represents individual home owners, land owners and business owners across the country whose interests are affected, or potentially affected, by public sector development and infrastructure projects.
Holmes & Hills' Planning and Development Team advises clients as to the powers of statutory authorities to compulsory purchase land, the procedures and rules for exercising these powers and the rules for determining the compensation payable. We are regularly advising and representing clients in the successful challenging of Compulsory Purchase Orders and Development Consent Orders and the effect the development or infrastructure project will (potentially) have on the client's proprietary interests.
Holmes & Hills' experienced team is able to advise property, land and business premises owners on:
The team at Holmes & Hills works in partnership with clients, providing strategic advice that from the outset is aimed at achieving the best possible outcome for the client, with consideration for the client's objectives. Most often, achieving the optimum outcome means securing the most favourable financial settlement possible from the acquiring authority, alongside other conditions of negotiation, such as timescales and scope of rights over land to be granted to an authority, or impinged.
Achieving the most favourable result for a client can mean pursuing claims through to hearings in the Upper Tribunal and Lands Chamber. Holmes & Hills has a wealth of experience preparing cases for, and representing clients at, hearings in the Upper Tribunal and Lands Chamber. As is discussed below, Holmes & Hills is recognised as having a team that specialises in planning and property related disputes. This independent recognition is in part due to the Team's experience in civil court procedure at every level and bridging the gap between this and Planning Law. The Team is in experienced representing clients in the County and High Courts, the Property Chamber, the Lands Tribunal and at Planning Inquiries.
The Team's wealth of civil procedure and contentious experience positions them well to advise clients on such legally technical, strategic and contentious matters as Blight, Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) and Development Consent Order (DCO) claims.
For many years Holmes & Hills has been independently ranked as a leading source of specialist legal advice and representation relating to matters concerning contentious and non-contentious Planning Law and development. Both the Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners - two independent directories of the UK's leading law firms - list Holmes & Hills as a specialist firm in this area of law.
Holmes & Hills is unique in having such a large team of solicitors specialising solely in Planning Law and development related property and land matters. The team comprises two Partners of the firm, two Senior Solicitors, one Consultant (ex-Partner), three Solicitors and one Trainee Solicitor.
As well as the Team being recognised collectively as being a specialist source of legal representation, five of the team are recognised for their individual expertise and experience. Michael Harman (Partner), Steven Hopkins (Partner) and David Whipps (Consultant), who lead the provision of Blight, Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) and Development Consent Order (DCO) claim services are all individually recognised for their Planning Law expertise.
This independent recognition means clients of Holmes & Hills can be certain they are receiving some of the best legal advice and representation available.
In representing clients in preparing, serving, negotiating and settling Blight, Compulsory Purchase and Development Consent claims, Holmes & Hills is pleased to be able to say that in numerous instances, we have successfully argued for and recovered 100% of the client's legal and professional costs from the acquiring authority. In such situations, any interim bill payments made to Holmes & Hills during the course of the matter are repaid as part of the settlement and no payments are required to be paid by the client at the successful conclusion of the case.
In representing clients our Planning Law solicitors will always seek to maximise the value of the financial settlement achieved under the statutory regime, this including recovery of costs incurred in achieving the settlement.
Where a property or piece of land is likely, in its entirety or in part, to be the subject of a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) due to its being required as part of a public development or infrastructure project, the property is considered blighted. Property and land can be negatively impacted by a project due to:
Due to the length of time required to plan, consult and gain the relevant permissions to move forward with a public development or infrastructure project, property and land can become blighted - their value materially negatively impacted (sometimes rendered worthless) - many years before the acquiring authority intends to actually serve a Compulsory Purchase Order on the owner. This can place property, land and business owners in a position where they are unable to sell and move, refinance (remortgage) or plan their business operations due to the likely future Compulsory Purchase Order.
To avoid the owners of affected property, land and businesses having to wait to receive a Compulsory Purchase Order from the acquiring authority and having no control over timescales, owners can serve a Blight Notice. A successful Blight Notice compels the authority to purchase the property, land or business premises; giving the owner more control over timescales, reducing uncertainty which otherwise may have persisted for years.
There is much room for contention surrounding Blight Notices, with potential disputes arising with the authority over whether and to what degree property, land or business premises are blighted. In addition, if an argument is successfully made that property is blighted, or if an authority has acknowledged this from the beginning, there is commonly material disagreement between the owner and the acquiring authority as to scope of the negative impact and the extent effect on the value of the property, land or business premises.
For the owner of any property, land or business affected by a public development or infrastructure project to have the best chance of serving a a successful Blight Notice and maximising the value of the financial settlement received, expert legal advice is required from solicitors specialising in such matters.
In many instances the relevant authority will communicate with owners of property, land and business premises which the authority believe may potentially be blighted. The authority will write to the owner and may invite them to speak with a representative from the authority. It may be that the authority brings to the owners attention the ability to serve a Blight Notice. In these situations, it is still necessary to obtain specialist legal advice and representation from a team of experts such as that at Holmes & Hills Solicitors.
In other cases, owners of property, land and business premises may believe their property is likely to be impacted by the public development or infrastructure project and be blighted, but they do not receive communication from the relevant authority or the authority does not have discussions with them regarding serving a Blight Notice. Simply because an owner has not received relevant communications from the authority, does not mean the owner would not be in a position to serve a successful Blight Notice and potentially receive a financial settlement. It is simply likely that the Blight Notice will be met with more resistance on the part of the authority. In these situations, specialist legal representation is more important still and it is recommended advice is sought at the earliest opportunity.
Authorities are encouraged to utilise the statutory tool of Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPO) as a last resort. Authorities are encouraged to first engage and attempt to reach agreement with owners through negotiation. Due to the legal technicalities and strategic nature of such negotiations, owners are strongly recommended not to engage in negotiations with acquiring authorities without legal representation from a solicitor specialising in Blight Notice, Compulsory Purchase Order and Development Consent Order claims.
Where previous negotiations have failed and a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) has been served, it is possible to challenge the Order. Successfully challenging a Compulsory Purchase Order can result in a change to:
Successfully challenging a CPO requires specialist legal advice from an expert in this niche area of law. The Planning and Development Team at Holmes & Hills will be able to provide early advice on the potential grounds, merit and success of any challenge to a Compulsory Purchase Order, allowing owners in receipt of such an Order to make informed decisions.