Last edited 05 Nov 2015

Crichel Down Rules

The ‘Crichel Down Rules’ are non-statutory arrangements under which government land which was acquired by, or under a threat of, compulsory purchase, but subsequently becomes surplus to requirements, should be offered back to former owners, their successors, or to sitting tenants.

They should be offered first opportunity to repurchase the land previously in their ownership, provided that its character has not materially changed since acquisition. The character of the land may be considered to have ‘materially changed’ where, for example, dwellings or offices have been erected on open land, mainly open land has been afforested, or where substantial works to an existing building have effectively altered its character. Where only part of the land for disposal has been materially changed in character, the obligation to offer back will apply only to the part that has not been changed.

The rules also apply to land acquired under the statutory blight provisions.

The rules do not apply where:

  • Land is to be transferred to another body which is to take over some or all of the functions or obligations of the department that currently owns the land.
  • Disposals for the purposes of Private Finance Initiative or Private Public Partnership projects.
  • Land transferred to the National Rivers Authority (now the Environment Agency) or land acquired compulsorily by the Environment Agency or to the water and sewerage service companies in consequence of the Water Act 1989 or subsequently acquired by them compulsorily.

On 29 October 2015, the government published Guidance on compulsory purchase, and the Crichel Down Rules for the disposal of surplus land acquired by, or under the threat of, compulsion.

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