Last edited 20 Jul 2016

Property blight

Property blight (sometimes referred to as 'planning blight' or 'blighted land') is the reduction in marketability and value of land as a result of a public sector decision.

Under certain conditions statutory blight can permit parties with a qualifying interest in land to require the relevant authority to purchase their interests in that land.

The Town and Country Planning Act defines ‘Blighted land’ as, ‘Land which is identified for the purposes of relevant public functions by a development plan document for the area in which the land is situated.’

The national planning policy framework (NPPF) states that this 'safeguarded' land, '... ensures the protection of Green Belt within the longer time-scale by reserving land which may be required to meet longer-term development needs without the need to alter Green Belt boundaries.' The NPPF also permits mineral safeguarding zones, and a number of technical safeguarding zones. See Safeguarded land for more information.

In addition, the issuing of a safeguarding direction gives rise to statutory blight. This might occur, where the land for a proposed nationally significant infrastructure project is safeguarded, so that it cannot be developed in a way that would prejudice the project. For example, HS2 and Crossrail 2.

Parties with qualifying interests, who might be able to require the relevant authority to purchase their interests in that land, include:

  • Owner/occupiers of private residential properties.
  • Owner/occupiers of business premises with an annual rateable value not exceeding a specified threshold level.
  • Owner/occupiers of agricultural units.
  • Mortgagees.

That is, not an investment property owner.

The affected party may seek to negotiate sale of the property, or may serve a blight notice.

To issue a blight notice, the affected party must be able to demonstrate that:

  • They have a qualifying interest in the property.
  • That it is partly or wholly within the safeguarded area.
  • That they have made all reasonable endeavours to sell the property, but have been unable to do so at its un-blighted value.

Qualifying parties may then serve a blight notice on the authority requiring that they acquire the property at its un-blighted value. The authority, may accept the notice, or may reject it, either on the basis that the property does not qualify, or because the authority no longer needs it.

If the notice is accepted, this has the same effect as the authority commencing compulsory purchase action, requiring the authority to purchase the property, and pay compensation at the un-blighted market value of the property. Compensation may also include payment for; relocation costs, reduction in the value of a business, and reduction in the value of adjoining land in the same ownership.

Appeals may be referred to the Lands Chamber, which is part of the Upper Tribunal and replaced the Lands Tribunal, in 2009.

NB in October 2013 Caroline Spelman introduced the Property Blight Compensation Bill, intended to improve the planning blight system for nationally significant infrastructure projects.

In the 2014 Autumn Statement, the chancellor suggested; '...The government believes the Compulsory Purchase Regime would benefit from streamlining and updating. Proposals will be published for consultation at Budget to make processes clearer, faster and fairer, with the aim of bringing forward more brownfield land for development.' In response, in June 2015, The British Property Federation suggested the government should consider making it easier for property owners to serve blight notices when they are affected by Compulsory Purchase Order proceedings. Ref BPF.

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