Regenerating Welsh Towns: Can Compulsory Purchase Orders help?
The National Assembly's Economy, Infrastructure and Skills Committee is calling on the Welsh Government to encourage local councils to use compulsory purchase powers to regenerate towns.
The Committee has outlined positive ways local authorities can use Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs) to improve communities by buying derelict buildings or land.
Using a CPO is often seen as a last resort for local authorities. The Committee believes that forcing someone to give up their land is not a step that should be taken lightly, but there are positive reasons why councils should have confidence to do this.
For local councils working to regenerate towns, the Committee found that these powers can be useful as they can bring neglected buildings and derelict land back into use. A Compulsory Purchase Order can be one important tool helping to break down the barriers to infrastructure development in towns across Wales.
Councils trying to encourage people to use active travel often struggle to create attractive walking and cycling routes because they need to divert around private land. Compulsory purchase is one option that local authorities can use to develop active travel routes without gaps.
The Committee is recommending that the Welsh Government provide clear guidance and support on using CPOs and to give a clear steer to local authorities on the benefits of using them. In cases where there are disputes, the Committee recommends that the Welsh Government should encourage both sides to engage in dispute resolution in an effort to avoid a potentially expensive journey through the legal system.
Russell George AM, chair of the Economy, Infrastructure and Skills Committee, said:
"We all want to see our town centres thrive and for people to choose to cycle and walk wherever possible. When used effectively, Compulsory Purchase Orders can have a real impact in helping Councils to achieve this. However we know that at the moment local councils rarely use them due to potentially lengthy and costly legal wrangling.
"Our Committee has looked at the process for using CPOs and we believe that the Welsh Government can make it easier and more efficient, helping local authorities to use the powers they have for the benefit of communities across Wales.
"These powers are an important tool for councils, and we believe the Welsh Government should actively challenge negative perceptions of the CPO process. They should provide advice and support for Councils so that they feel confident to pursue it as an option."