Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs)

Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs)

A Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) is the power afforded to public bodies to acquire identified areas of land compulsorily, for the purposes of development or to enable local authorities to perform their functions and duties. The primary reason a scheme allowing for the compulsory acquisition of land exists is to allow public infrastructure projects to proceed for the greater and common good. It follows therefore, that the affected parties should be duly compensated for their loss/disturbance. Compensation is available to restore the affected party, in so far as money can, to the same position as before the property/land was acquired.

This is a power that has been given to public bodies since 1541 and has been repeatedly amended and expanded upon. The Land Clauses Consolidation Act, 1845, was introduced in an effort to consolidate and regularise the way in which land/property could be compulsorily purchased.

The most commonly used power is provided under section 76 of the Housing Act, 1966 (the “Housing Act”) (as amended by the Planning and Developmental Act 2000 (the “2000 Act”). This modern power applies to most acquisitions, whether for housing or planning. The 2000 Act provides greater flexibility, allowing Local Authorities to acquire land for a broader range of purposes. A Local Authority also has the power to acquire a derelict site by agreement or compulsorily within their functional area under section 14 of the Derelict Sites Act 1990.

There is a constitutional right to own and enjoy private property under Article 43 of the Constitution of Ireland. Therefore, the forced sale of a property must be justified, and the CPO should recite the legal basis on which it has authority to act.

The Housing Act procedure detailed above is the standard CPO procedure. It provides for compulsory acquisition by means of a CPO made by a Local Authority and submitted to and confirmed by An Bord Pleanála in accordance with the provisions contained in the Third Schedule of the Housing Act.