Refusal to give up possession

Neighbourhood Planning Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 11:30 am ar 27 Hydref 2016.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

With this it will be convenient to discuss clauses 14 to 21 stand part.

Photo of Gavin Barwell Gavin Barwell Minister of State (Department for Communities and Local Government) (Housing, Planning and London)

The clauses deal with compensation and other matters related to the temporary possession power. Clause 13 is relatively straightforward. It ensures that where someone refuses to give up possession of the land, the acquiring authority can take steps to gain possession by ensuring that the existing enforcement provisions for compulsory acquisition cases, which enable an acquiring authority to use a sheriff or officer of the court to enforce possession by a warrant, also apply to temporary possession cases.

Clauses 14 to 16 set out how the compensation provisions will work to ensure that those whose land is subject to temporary possession are fairly compensated for the disruption caused. Clause 14 provides that the claimants will be entitled to compensation for any loss or injury that they sustain as a result of the temporary possession. The compensation payable will reflect the rental value of the leasehold interest in the land. Where the claimant is operating a trade or business on the land, they will be entitled to compensation for disturbance of that trade or business.

Subsection (7) provides that the start of the statutory six-year time limit for submitting a compensation claim runs from the end of the temporary possession period, rather than the start. That is a safeguard to ensure that claimants do not run out of time to submit a claim for compensation if the temporary possession is for a lengthy period. Claimants will be entitled to interest on any compensation outstanding after the end of the temporary possession period. As with compulsory purchase more generally, if any disputes about compensation arise, they will be dealt with by the Upper Tribunal.

Clause 15 ensures that those affected are entitled to request and received advance payments of compensation. Provisions are modelled on those that are already in place for compulsory purchase, but I will briefly summarise the key elements. After receiving a notice of intended entry under clause 11, an owner or occupier may submit a written request for an advance payment. The request should explain the basis for the claim and contain sufficient information for the acquiring authority to make an estimate. Further information may be requested, if necessary. The advance payment will be 90% of the compensation amount agreed by the acquiring authority and the claimant, or 90% of the authority’s estimate if the amount is not agreed by both parties. It must be made on the day of entry to the land or, if later, two months from the date on which the request was received or any additional information was provided.

Clause 15(7) to (9) make provision for further payments by the acquiring authority or a repayment by the claimant. That is where the initial estimate is either subsequently found to have been too low, or where it is later found when the compensation is agreed that the acquiring authority’s estimate was too high so the claimant has been overpaid.

Clause 16 provides that interest is payable on any outstanding amounts of advance payments of compensation that are due after the due date. Subsection (3) provides that if the advance payment made is subsequently found to be in excess of the entitlement, the person must repay any interest paid. Under clause 15(8), the person must also repay any excess compensation paid in advance. I hope those arrangements will encourage acquiring authorities to put in place effective procedures to deal with requests for advance payments.

Clause 17 confirms that an acquiring authority may only use the land for the purposes for which the temporary possession was authorised. Subsection (2) makes it clear that that can include the removal or erection of buildings or other works, and the removal of vegetation, to the extent that the acquiring authority would have been able to do, had it acquired all the interest in the land instead of just taking temporary possession.

Clause 18 makes some consequential amendments to the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. The planning system enables owner-occupiers of properties or businesses that are affected by statutory blight from proposed development to require the acquiring authority to purchase their property on compulsory purchase terms. There are currently about 20 different forms of statutory blight, one of which is inclusion in a compulsory purchase order. Clause 18 adds land subject to temporary possession to the categories of blighted land. It also ensure that the acquiring authority has the right to enter and survey land in connection with taking temporary possession of it.

Clauses 19 to 21 set out the broad framework within which the temporary possession power will work, and they establish protections for those whose land may be affected. However, there may be cases where there is a need to make different provision in different circumstances. For example, it may be necessary to limit what the land may be used for during the temporary possession in certain cases. Clause 19 therefore gives the Secretary of State the power to make regulations as to the authorisation and exercise of the temporary possession power where that is necessary.

Photo of Roberta Blackman-Woods Roberta Blackman-Woods Shadow Minister (Housing) 11:45, 27 Hydref 2016

How will the Secretary of State know that he has to give a direction, in a particular case, about what temporary possession can be used for?

Photo of Gavin Barwell Gavin Barwell Minister of State (Department for Communities and Local Government) (Housing, Planning and London)

I imagine—although I will happily write to the hon. Lady if inspiration arises subsequently suggesting that I have got this wrong—that it would be a situation in which a dispute had arisen about the use that the land was put to and where there was a question of whether that would have an effect on the long-term interests of someone on the land. The casework would end up on the Secretary of State’s desk and give him the power to make a ruling to that effect. If there are other points that I have not mentioned, I will write to the hon. Lady and members of the Committee to clarify.

Clause 20 simply provides meanings for some of the words used in the earlier temporary possession clauses. Finally, clause 21 provides that the temporary possession power can be exercised in relation to Crown land, subject to the acquiring authority obtaining the consent of the appropriate authority.

Photo of Jim McMahon Jim McMahon Shadow Minister (Communities and Local Government) (Devolution)

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Bone. I repeat my declaration of interest as a member of Oldham Council, as on the Register of Members’ Financial Interests.

I am asking for clarity, because the measure states that compensation will be made for the period of occupation or possession of the land, and that subsequent compensatory payments will be made for any loss or injury suffered. In one possible scenario, however, if farmland was taken possession of, unforeseen costs might be incurred. For example, if the planting season occurred before occupation, a poor harvest might be the result of occupation, so how would the compensation payment work in such circumstances?

Photo of Gavin Barwell Gavin Barwell Minister of State (Department for Communities and Local Government) (Housing, Planning and London)

Again, it is better that I write to the hon. Gentleman, rather than giving an answer on the spot. I guess he is asking about when some detriment has been done to the long-term interest in the land by the period of temporary occupation and how that is catered for.

Photo of Gavin Barwell Gavin Barwell Minister of State (Department for Communities and Local Government) (Housing, Planning and London)

Exactly; if it is discovered afterwards. I will write to the hon. Gentleman to answer his point, rather than speculating now.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 13 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 14 to 21 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 22