Compulsory purchase—procedure
Compulsory purchase—procedure

The following Planning guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Compulsory purchase—procedure
  • Introduction
  • Identification of purpose, powers and extent of CPO, and resolution to proceed
  • Land referencing
  • Drafting the CPO and supporting documentation
  • Making the order
  • Notification and publicity
  • Submission of CPO for confirmation
  • Objections
  • If objections are made and not withdrawn
  • more


There are a large number of statutory provisions which grant compulsory purchase powers for specific purposes to specified bodies, see Compulsory purchase—orders—Sources of compulsory purchase powers. Authorisation of compulsory purchase is commonly conferred by a compulsory purchase order (CPO), which is made by the specified body (the acquiring authority) and confirmed by the relevant Minister (the confirming authority).

This Practice Note focuses on the procedure for promoting a CPO to which the Acquisition of Land Act 1981 (ALA 1981) applies. The ALA 1981 applies to most compulsory acquisitions by public bodies, although separate procedures may apply, for example, where compulsory acquisition is proposed as part of development consent orders under the Planning Act 2008 (PA 2008) (see Practice Notes: Compulsory acquisition for NSIPs—introduction and principles, Compulsory acquisition for NSIPs—application, draft DCO and supporting documentation and Compulsory acquisition for NSIPs—examination, making the DCO, costs, implementation and material change applications).

The compulsory purchase procedure in respect of CPOs governed by ALA 1981 can be divided into a number of stages:

  1. negotiation

  2. identification of purpose and powers and resolution to proceed

  3. land referencing

  4. drafting the CPO

  5. making the CPO

  6. notification and publicity

  7. objections

  8. decision

  9. confirmation

  10. challenge

  11. implementation

  12. compensation

See Flowchart: Compulsory purchase order (CPO)—flowchart.


Because of its draconian nature, compulsory purchase to secure the assembly of the land needed for implementation of a scheme