by Philip Meade of Davis Meade Property Consultants
ThE Welsh Assembly is investigating its compensation claim system for land and property affected by public works and i was one of a small panel of chartered surveyors and planners invited recently to share their thoughts with the senedd Economy infrastructure and skills committee.
having had plenty of experience in recent years representing farmers and landowners affected by the Newtown bypass and other schemes i was able to explain that from the claimants’ side of the fence all claimants need significant amounts of assistance professionally as there is a real minefield to deal with.
Taking a new bypass for example, the process of compulsory purchase can take three to four years and it is still not over when the road is finished as there will be at least another year of compensation claims for what is known as Part one claims for people who haven’t lost land due to the bypass construction but have been affected by it.
The current compensation claim system is complex and difficult and tensions arise because the various parties have different goals. The people building the road, the contractors, want it completed as quick as possible while claimants want minimal disruption and disturbance.
The compensation rate payable to farmers and other property owners losing land is based on market value and often that does not feel sufficient or fair because market value assumes a willing seller.
A farmer losing, say, 20 acres in the middle of his farm will receive only agricultural value. There are also payments for severance but this rarely really puts the landowner back in the same position as he was before.
Farmers who feel they aren’t being compensated sufficiently will want to appeal but the appeals procedure isn’t easy either and it is cost and risk prohibitive.
Appeals would be more accessible if there was a small claim court for compulsory Purchase orders: A small claims court for, say, claims under £20,000, would hoover up a lot of claim problems and allow claimants to argue their case in front of an unbiased forum and have their day in court.
Although there is a system allowing land and property owners to claim professional fees for advice over compensations, there is no support when it comes to disputing a claim.
other methods of Alternative Dispute Resolution could also be helpful and this can often be funded by both sides but at far less cost and risk than the Upper Tribunal where appeals currently end up.
The other two panellists at the committee on october 11 were Paul Wheeldon, county surveyors society, and Roisin Willmott, Royal Town Planning