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Dublin: 8 °C Wednesday 22 January, 2020

Dublin's radical bus corridor plan and Compulsory Purchase Orders: what you need to know

Sections of around 1,300 front gardens may be acquired as part of the Bus Connects plan.

THE NATIONAL TRANSPORT Authority unveiled a major new plan for Dublin’s bus system this last Tuesday as it detailed its 16-route Bus Connects project.

The brand was initially mooted last year but detailed plans for radial routes (to and from the city centre) were unveiled this week in a new discussion document.

It was also revealed that the plan would entail the acquisition of sections of around 1,300 front gardens around the city – prompting concern from many homeowners along affected routes.

Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs) would be used to acquire sections or slices of gardens, the NTA said. There are no plans, however, to knock any buildings as part of the project.

So how do CPOs work? If you live along affected routes should you take any action now?

We’ll answer some of the main questions about the project here:

Q: Remind me – what’s Bus Connects? 

The NTA is pitching Bus Connects as part of a major overhaul of the current bus system. The city will slowly “grind to a halt” unless radical action like this is taken, CEO Anne Graham said.

A continuous bus lane is proposed in each direction along the sixteen suggested routes – in addition to maintaining two traffic lanes. Cycle lanes will be segregated from other traffic.

Trips to the city centre will become more predictable and reliable, it’s argued, and journey times will be cut by up to 50% along each corridor.

In addition to the front gardens, land from outside commercial premises will also be taken in order to allow for significant road widening along some sections. Trees will also need to be removed, and footpaths will be moved and narrowed.

You can find lots more detail about the plan in our article here from earlier in the week (including the proposed routes). So far what’s being published is a discussion document only. A full public consultation will take place in the autumn.

The NTA hopes to have the work completed by 2027.

123 Source: NTA

Q: So how do CPOs work?

A CPO is a legal function that allows statutory bodies take possession of land or property for the common good without the agreement of the owner.

The owner of the land is compensated for the transfer and a guiding principle of the transfer is that the owner is left in the same financial position as before the transaction.

CPOs can be used for a variety of reasons and are most associated with infrastructure projects like the building of roads, railways or urban development.

CPOs are not final and objections can be raised.

shutterstock_163918409 Major infrastructure projects like the M50 in Dublin required extensive use of CPOs. Source: Shutterstock/Semmick Photo

Q: How does the process generally play out?

The Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland has a detailed guide to how a CPO takes place.

It explains that after the statutory body decides to make a CPO, the affected parties will be notified of the decision and newspaper notices will also be published.

The public notices will state that the CPO is to be put on public display and is to be submitted to An Bord Pleanála.

The notices sent to the owner or occupier must provide information about how and where to object to the proposed purchase.

If no objections are raised, then An Bord Pleanála can grant the CPO.

However, affected parties are permitted to lodge objections and if they do so a Public Local Inquiry is held.

Following this process, the ultimate decision to confirm, amend or reject the CPO is made by An Bord Pleanála.

This decision can of course be further challenged in the courts which lengthens the process further.

A recent high-profile CPO case involving IDA Ireland and a Kildare homeowner was concluded in the Supreme Court after four years.

Business organisation Dublin Town has been among the groups this week to express concern about the scale of the task facing the NTA if the Bus Connects project is to be completed on time.

Regarding the CPO purchase of gardens, the removal of parking spots and the removal of trees, the business group said “we believe that this will involve significant time delays to reach agreement with the relevant property owners and other affected parties”.


Q: What happens then?

If it gets to the point where a CPO is awarded, the owner of the property lodges a claim for compensation.

This compensation is set at the market value for the land and the owner is entitled to carry out their own assessment of the value.

The value of any retained land that may be negatively affected by the transfer is also included in the price of compensation.

If the amount of compensation is disputed it enters an arbitration phase before the final valuation is set.

Where sections of gardens are taken the NTA has said it will arrange for the landscaping of land and replanting of gardens where required.

Q: Should I take action now if I live along one of the routes?

No. The NTA is set to publish a more detailed report about properties that will be impacted in September or October, followed by a full public consultation.

The advice from the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI) is that the current Bus Connects discussion document from the NTA has no standing as yet in planning or in CPO terms.

The society plans to hold a series of public information sessions at the end of the summer to allow people in affected areas ask questions about the process (you can find their website here).

shutterstock_215421952 Source: Shutterstock/Matej Kastelic

The Citizens Information website, which provides information on right and entitlements, advises professional advice be sought if you receive a CPO. Fees can be offset against the compensation.

“The compulsory purchase system is an extremely complex area. You should get the professional advice of a chartered surveyor as soon as you are served with a notice relating to a compulsory purchase order (CPO).

The fees charged by a chartered surveyor are part of a normal claim for compensation.

Q: What should I do if I receive a CPO?

That’s when to seek out the services of a chartered valuation surveyor with experience in this area.

According to the SCSI:

“This advice will cover how best to deal with your Notice and preparation of your claim for compensation.

The aim of any compulsory purchase order should be to leave the affected party, in so far as money can, in the same position as before the property/ land was acquired.

90352112_90352112 CPOs were introduced in 1757 - allowing for the formation of the Wide Streets Commission and the construction of streets like D'Olier St and Westmoreland St. Source: Sam Boal

How is compensation determined?

All the NTA has said so far is that it expects compensation to be in the tens of thousands of euro – but the amounts, obviously, will vary greatly depending on the amount of land required and the location.

The SCSI advises that “no two properties are the same, so each individual case needs assessment”.

“Amongst other issues, the compensation amount should reflect both the market value of actual land being acquired and any reduction in current market value of the retained property/land.

It will also generally include costs for factors like disturbance and professional representative fees, along with legal conveyance costs.

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