Tenacious House Owner Wins £320,000 Following Compulsory Purchase

Property rights are strongly protected under English law and those who have their land compulsorily purchased by public authorities are entitled to full compensation. In one case, a man whose house was acquired by a local authority against his will in order to make way for a major regeneration project was awarded more than £320,000.

The house was derelict, having suffered arson and vandalism, and its value lay in the development potential of the land on which it stood. It had the benefit of two planning consents for various forms of residential development, but those were superseded by its compulsory purchase by the council. It was acquired as part of a 180-acre redevelopment initiative in what was a run-down area.

There was a wide gulf between the value put upon the property by its former owner, who claimed that it was worth £628,000, and the council, which contended for a figure of just £80,000. In ruling on the dispute, the Upper Tribunal (UT) rejected arguments that the property had a premium value, in that it was the final piece of the jigsaw required to put together the redevelopment site.

The council's estimate, however, was too low and, after analysing the sale prices of comparable homes in the same area at the relevant time, the UT arrived at a valuation of £280,000. After various losses, costs and fees were taken into account, the former owner's total award came to £321,702, before interest. The UT noted that the property owner had resisted the compulsory purchase of his property, which he had wished to develop himself, and paid tribute to his considerable tenacity in pursuing the case.