To follow up on one of our December blogs, Webinar De-Brief Part 3: CPO Update, Sarah Sutherland (burges-salmon.com) which covered the Inspector's decision to refuse the Vicarage Fields CPO, it is worth noting a recent Inspector's decision dated 3 January 2023 to refuse the Nicholson Shopping Centre (and Surrounding Area) Compulsory Purchase Order 2022. The Inspector concluded that the redevelopment of the Order lands would bring significant benefits for the social, economic and environmental well-being of Maidenhead and did not raise any concerns relating to the scheme's viability or deliverability. The Inspector did however find that the effect of the scheme on the owners of Smokey's Nightclub would be disproportionate and that the CPO had not been demonstrated to be a last resort. The CPO would have resulted in the closure of the nightclub and there was no prospect of an alternative premises being found within a reasonable timeframe, with business extinguishment being likely. The Inspector found that the impact on the owners would be severe because of the nightclub's central role in their family life and personal commitment to it. It would also result in the loss of a valued facility for the town.
It is important to note that the Inspector set out that this position could have been avoided if there had been constructive engagement and a genuine willingness to explore options for relocation on the part of the acquiring authority and its partners. Coupled with the Vicarage Field decision, it is likely that we will see greater scrutiny being placed by Inspectors on the level of negotiation and engagement with affected parties in CPO promotion inquiries this year.