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AN ARTICLE by Peter Scrafton FIRRV, FCIArb, MRSA(Hon) Solicitor (Non-Practising)

June 2016.

I thought that we ought to tip our hats to Shakespeare, this year, of all years, as I mention a few matters which are (or should be) of interest to readers, not all of which lie within the bounds of rating: for things are changing around us, in many areas, rapidly, with more changes and challenges on the way. I am going to talk about a few of these, here, albeit in outline.

The first matter of report is the almost invariable demise of the Bill in the House of Lords, to add new Council Tax bands: it has run out of parliamentary time, seems not to have government support, and is therefore unlikely to proceed.

Rating proceeds in its pre-ordained direction, of course. The Institute is involved in discussions within Whitehall, trying to secure the most workable outcome, but there are obvious tensions and “unknowns”. When David Magor was giving evidence to Clive Betts’ Commons Communities and Local Government Committee, recently, and was being asked how additional expenditure by local government could be funded, other than by the local rate retention proposals, his response that the Central List yields an as yet unallocated £9bn pa provoked uncomprehending stares from most of the Committee, one of whom thought that “Check, Challenge, Appeal” was already enshrined in primary legislation!

Everything could fairly be said to be “up in the air” – although I hear rumours that the Central List “pot” may be used to fund billing authority shortfalls in the event of appeal delays, pro-ratepayer outcomes, or a need to establish a “pooling” system of a kind perhaps similar to pre-1900 pooling, or the old London equalisation scheme. There is a great deal of work which is being done and which still needs to be done, in fairly short order. There will be a great deal more to be said – and Telford promises to be exceptionally interesting, this year.

Compulsory Purchase and Compensation are enjoying a long-overdue place in the legislative sun. We have, of course, the Housing and Planning Act 2016, and a further consultation has just closed, covering

  • Identifying and fixing market value
  • Clarifying the principle of the ‘no scheme world’
  • Extending the definition of ‘the scheme’
  • Putting mayoral development corporations on same footing as new town and urban development corporations
  • Review of the ‘Bishopsgate’ principle
  • Reverse loss payment share for landlords and occupiers
  • Penal interest rates to enforce the making of advanced payments
  • Statutory Blight
  • Repeal of section 15(1) of the Land Compensation Act 1961
  • Repeal of Part 4 of the Land Compensation Act 1961
  • Allowing more authorities to bring forward compulsory purchase orders for joint purposes
  • Making provision for temporary possession
  • Bringing orders into operation

  • These are to come before Parliament as the Neighbourhood Infrastructure and Planning Bill

    As if that was not enough to chew on, discussions are under way in relation to proposals for Crossrail 2; and measures to start the implementation of the acquisition of properties which are owner-occupied along the line of Phase 2A of HS2 (West Midlands to Crewe). These measures will apply with immediate effect and replace the temporary Exceptional Hardship Scheme which has been in place for Phase 2a since 2013. Valuers and public sector bodies should study these provisions with care, starting, perhaps with the Written Statement made by the Minister of State for Transport on 26th May 2016, which is accompanied by the Department for Transport’s decision document and a number of other papers dealing with acquisition matters. Space constraints, unfortunately, do not permit detailed discussion, here.

    Last, but not least, there should be a mention of the increase in Court and Lands Chamber charges, which took place in April. The Court of Appeal and Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) Fees (Amendment) Order 2016 (SI 2016/434) increased Lands Chamber fees by around 10%, across the board, including applications for leave, applications for extensions of time and consent orders, fees on appealing to the Tribunal or giving a notice of reference and, or course, hearing fees, as well.

    The Court of Appeal’s fees have increased, as well, but I will not frighten you all with those: at least they do not come up very often for most of us, although it is as well to be aware of potential costs before embarking on litigation which may bring about pyrrhic victories: principles, I learned long ago, can be very expensive things!

    Peter Scrafton

    ©J.P. Scrafton, 2016

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