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Repeal of CPO & Pathfinder Housing Demolition powers

Comment 11th September 2010

The last Government eroded protection for private householders from enforced eviction via Compulsory Purchase Order on their homes.

The new Homes and Communities Agency quango no longer has to show land is derelict and underused or prove CPO is essential for the public interest.

All the authority now has to say is they want the property for 'regeneration', allowing government agencies to assemble almost any home or land at will, with only token rights of appeal, undermining the sanctity of individual ownership our society is based on.

In recent years, some 95% of housing CPOs have been granted, with the system overwhelmingly skewed against individuals trying to fight demolition of their neighbourhoods.

The government should shift the balance of regeneration back in favour of local communities, allowing 3rd party rights of objection to applications not conforming with democratically produced local plans, and blocking area-wide housing CPO powers that have been abused to bully home owners without leading to any examples of successful regeneration.

CPO should only be used where an owner is blighting the area, e.g. by leaving a property derelict; OR where a plan of clearly wider interest like a new rail link or refurbishment programme necessitates it.

It should also only ever be used once independent arbitration over fair values has been unsuccessful.

Such a draconian power should not be on offer via back room deals with developers who really like the look of your house – this has encouraged public sector corruption.

 

Why does this matter?

 

In Liverpool and elsewhere, this imbalance has been abused by a cash drenched quango called the 'Merseyside New Heartlands Housing Market Renewal Pathfinder'.

Working with the local council they have used vast amounts of public money to forcibly empty out functioning inner city districts like the Welsh Streets, Edge Lane and Granby in Toxteth, entering into land deals with four major national developers before any public consultation took place.

Complicit and unaccountable Housing Associations have refused to re-let or repair their properties, and unwitting tenants and owners would suddenly find themselves left in streets being emptied out, boarded up and written off, their homes sold from under their feet by their own public authorities at rock bottom prices.

This abuse has brought public spending and regeneration into disrepute, deterred private investment, brought misery and division to established communities. The outgoing Leader of the City Council was forced to admit he left huge swathes of Liverpool like war zones.

 

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