Bevan Brittan’s Planning Team has advised NHS Property Services (NHS PS) on a successful objection to The London Borough of Barking and Dagenham Council (Vicarage Field and surrounding land) Compulsory Purchase Order 2021 (“Order”). The Order, if confirmed, would have resulted in the compulsory acquisition of NHS property.

Working as part of a multi-disciplinary team, including Montagu Evans, ritchie*studio, Cogent Heritage and Christopher Young KC, Bevan Brittan advised and assisted NHS PS in objecting to the Order, including appearing with Counsel at the Public Inquiry.

Although NHS PS fully support the much-needed regeneration of Barking Town Centre, the Inspector concluded that inadequate negotiations were carried out by the acquiring authority to acquire its land at market value, the receipts of which would be reinvested back into the NHS. The Inspector was also particularly concerned about viability and whether the CPO scheme, as permitted, would be delivered. Bevan Brittan advised on a range of legal matters arising from the Order, including evidence, procedural matters, property support and alternative development proposals.

The inquiry was held in April and July 2022. Following the close of the inquiry, on 4 October 2022, the Inspector appointed by the Secretary of State decided not to confirm the Order. In the main, this was for two reasons:

  • The “fundamental lack of tangible and substantive evidence on viability”. The acquiring authority did not present substantive information to the Public Inquiry which demonstrated that there was a reasonable prospect that the proposed scheme of redevelopment would proceed.
  • The Inspector also expressed “concerns that inadequate negotiations have taken place”.

This outcome means that the acquiring authority are not able to rely on the Order to compulsorily acquire NHS PS’s property.

Dalee Kaur, Planning Partner at Bevan Brittan, said: “The decision reinforces the importance of the CPO process and the level of preparation required to acquire land compulsorily. Although the decision is disappointing for Barking Town Centre, as it is clear that regeneration is needed, this will mean NHS Property Services can finally sell its land with the receipts reinvested into the NHS.”     

Alongside Dalee Kaur, the Bevan Brittan team consisted of Property Partner James Atkins, Planning Associate Matthew Tucker and Planning Solicitor Waguahta Ogbab.

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