Welsh government consultation on reforms to compulsory powers and procedures – Law Society response
The Welsh government proposed changes to legislation underpinning compulsory purchase powers and procedures.
The consultation sought views on reforms to:
- modernise statutory compulsory purchase powers and procedures underpinned by primary legislation
- implement technical process improvements to streamline the compulsory purchase public inquiries and written representations procedures
It makes sense to enable the inspector considering a compulsory purchase order (CPO) matter to be able to have a combination of procedures of written representation, hearing and inquiry in order to assess the proposal and make a recommendation to the Welsh ministers.
We would welcome further guidance on what will be regarded as “disadvantaged” with regard to amending the public inquiries procedure to allow pre-inquiry meetings to be conducted by means of a telephone or video conference facility.
Care will need to be exercised that interested parties will be able to access such facilities particularly in rural areas and in relation to other groups within society for whom meetings by telephone/video conference may be inaccessible.
We take the view that amending the public inquiries procedure to remove the requirement to give notice in newspapers/site notice would seem contrary to openness and transparency of process.
Whilst acknowledging that there are costs in newspaper and site notices, the provisions relating to CPO are such that there should be continuation of public information. There can be a complimentary provision of having the information available electronically on the Council website, however this should not be a replacement for publication in media outlets.
We agree that the public inquiries procedure should be amended to require newspaper notices to be published concurrently in physical and digital copies of local newspapers in the locality in which the CPO land is situated.
This consultation closed on 19 January 2021.