In Irish history, there have been numerous examples of the presiding Government instigating a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) to implement national projects. Intentions being for the future development of the country and public interest. A Government Minister or Acquiring Authority is required to seek a CPO from An Bord Pleanála and in contentious cases such an order can be expedited to provide a clear pathway and certainty around the delivery of a project of national importance.
The rules for the assessment of compensation for land taken on foot of a compulsory acquisition, generally provide that the value of land shall be taken to be the amount, which the land if sold in the open market by a willing seller, might be expected to realise. Compensation will also deal with issues such as severance and disturbance to remaining landholdings. The characteristics and attributes of the property are considered as part of any assessment of compensation payable to the landowner. If zoning is in place for residential development for example, the potential of that development and the requirement for much needed housing will be reflected in the compensation payable.
But CPOs are not just about money. The decisions and process involved can be emotive. There are many stakeholders to consider and objectives to be met. In some cases there is merit in considering a CPO for the successful delivery of projects of importance. However, for every project that needs to be realised, there are landowners who need to be accommodated. Many have a long history with their property, and they hold sentimental attachment in addition to financial value to them. It is never a simple choice to sell that asset or be forced to sell it.
Depending on the project, such compensation sums for land acquisition may be considered relatively modest given the overall cost of the project. However the personal cost to landowners may be significant as they can be dealing with the compulsory acquisition process for years before reaching a conclusion.
Acquiring authorities must carefully navigate the legal process, taking the obligatory steps with fairness and consideration. Landowners must equip themselves with the knowledge and understanding of the process and the impact on their livelihood. Specialist advice is essential on both sides to understand the true value of the property, both as a single property and as part of a wider scheme.
Our small island will continue on its path of growth and development. Our challenge is to balance how we use the land we have for the good of our people, both users and owners.
Niall Brereton BSc MRCIS MSCI is a Registered Valuer and experienced Compulsory Acquisition Practitioner with Bannon Chartered Surveyors and Property Consultants. Niall has advised on multiple CPOs, acting primarily for individual claimants and corporate landowners.
Bannon is currently advising landowners in respect of the following CPO projects: