Archive for June, 2010

Compulsory purchase ok?

Planning is not an area normally covered by this news letter but a recent case caught our eye.

Part IX of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 gives power to a local authority to acquire land in its area compulsorily to secure the carrying out of a particular development.

A site in Raglan Street, Wolverhampton was owned as to the greater part by Sainsbury’s, the remainder being owned by Tesco.  Each company wished to develop the site but could not do so without the City Council acquiring the other company’s interest.

Tesco controlled a site in Wolverhampton call the Royal Hospital site (“RHS”) for which the City Council wished to secure regeneration.  Tesco considered it not financially viable without subsidy elsewhere.  However, Tesco offered to enter into a planning obligation in respect of RHS if the Council acquired Sainsbury’s interest in the Raglan Street site.  The City Council decided to do so regarding Tesco’s promise to regenerate the RHS as decisive.  The Supreme Court appeal in R (on the application of  Sainsbury’s Supermarkets Ltd) v Wolverhampton City Council and another [2010] UKSC 20 was successful but only on a majority of 4 to 3.

In his leading majority judgement, Lord Collins held it was legitimate for a local authority to take into account “off-site” benefits of a proposed development provided there was “a real rather than fanciful or remote” connection between the “off-site” benefits and the development for which the compulsory acquisition is made.  For the minority, Lord Phillips held the Council made two decisions.  One, whether to exercise its compulsory purchase powers at all.  Here Wolverhampton City Council was not entitled to take account of a benefit unconnected with the proposed development and had not.  Two, to decide which of the rivals to support and in this case, the Council could have regard to unconnected benefits.

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