The Port of London Authority (PLA) and the Secretary of State appealed the decision of a High Court judge to uphold a challenge to a compulsory purchase order (CPO) by the respondent landowner.
The judge had held that the Secretary of State had confirmed the CPO on a basis that was different from that which was promoted during the inquiry into the CPO, and that there had been insufficient evidence on which to confirm the order. The judge also found that the decision had been unfair to the respondent. The judge opted to quash the CPO in its entirety, finding that pursuant to the Acquisition of Land Act 1981, s 24(2), he could not simply quash the confirmation of the CPO only.
The appellants challenged the judge’s findings.
The court held that the judge had been correct to interpret s 24(2) as only provided authority to quash the whole of the CPO. If Parliament had intended to empower the court to quash the confirmation only, thereby leaving the CPO intact, it would have said so.
However, the court found that the judge had erred in holding that there was insufficient evidence to support the CPO confirmation, as the confirmation did not have to be linked to any particular planning permission sought. It was enough that there was a sufficient probability that an alternative scheme would be acceptable. The inspector had indicated that this was the case.
The court upheld the judge’s decision that the respondent had been treated unfairly. The PLA had not argued during the inquiry that an alternative design could be possible, and the proposition that a better design could be chosen was never put to the parties. As this had been the basis upon which the Secretary of State confirmed the CPO, it was unfair that the respondent had not been given an opportunity to address this point.
David Wolfe QC was involved in this case.