Engaging with the people affected after making a Compulsory Purchase order
43. The authority should seek to listen to the people affected at every stage of the process. It should do what it can to understand their concerns and where possible address those concerns. It should consider appointing a specified case manager to whom people have direct, easy and face to face access.
Information and advice for the people affected
44. As soon as possible after the authority has decided to make a compulsory purchase order it should tell people as clearly and plainly as possible how the compulsory purchase process works, what rights they have and where they can go for advice. The Scottish Government has published an easy read 'Guide to compulsory purchase and compensation' for this purpose 23 . Scottish Ministers strongly encourage the authority to send a copy of this guide to everyone affected by the order.
45. The authority should explain to people in plain, easy to understand language why it needs to acquire their land. It should explain the purpose for which it seeks to acquire the land, the powers that it is using, what the public benefits will be and what alternative sites (if any) it has considered. If it has not done so already, it should meet owners, tenants, occupiers and anyone else affected as early as possible.
Serving statutory notices
46. At various stages of the process the authority must serve notices on people with an interest in the land. The wording of these notices is prescribed by statute and some people may find them difficult to understand. When serving a notice, the authority should therefore include a covering letter that explains as clearly and plainly as possible why it has sent the notice, what the notice means, what the person should do next and where they can go to get help and advice. The authority may wish to refer to the Scottish Government's easy read guide 24 in this letter.
47. The authority should tell people what professional fees they are entitled to reclaim. It should also explain how it will repay those fees and when it will pay them. It may wish to refer to the Scottish Government's easy read guide for owners 25 , which contains information about professional fees.
Accommodation works 26
48. If acquiring only part of someone's land, the authority should consider at an early stage the possible benefits of offering and agreeing a package of accommodation works. To avoid misunderstandings or disputes any agreement about accommodation works should be in writing. The authority should ensure that contractors know what it has agreed to and that contractors carry out the accommodation works as agreed.
Agricultural or business land
49. When seeking to acquire agricultural or business land, the authority should pay particular attention to farming and business issues. It should consider the value of consulting a suitable qualified and experienced land agent or chartered rural surveyor to identify issues early. It should also consider the benefits of ensuring that officials who speak to land owners and occupiers have an awareness of farming and/or business issues.
50. If the authority is seeking to acquire only part of a property it should fully consider the effect of this on the future viability of the farm or business. In some cases a slight change in the amount of land taken can dramatically lessen the impact and/or the need for expensive accommodation works.
51. If a business needs to relocate, the authority should do what it can to help find alternative premises for the business. As well as alleviating hardship this may help the local economy. It may also reduce the amount of any compensation claims.
52. The authority should explain to the people affected how any construction works may affect them. It should listen to any concerns and alleviate the impact where possible.
53. When seeking to acquire someone's home the authority should do what it can to help the person find suitable alternative accommodation. A local authority has a duty to secure suitable alternative accommodation on reasonable terms, if none is available. 27
Alternative dispute resolution
54. Scottish Ministers have published information about the use of mediation in the planning system 28 . Ministers encourage authorities to consider the potential benefits of mediation or other forms of alternative dispute resolution at all stages of the compulsory purchase process, from planning and preparation through to agreeing compensation. This can save time and money for both parties, while its relative speed may help to reduce the period of uncertainty for the people affected 29 . In some cases the authority may wish to consider whether it might represent best value to pay for and facilitate mediation or other alternative dispute resolution techniques 30 .
55. The compulsory purchase process can cause a long period of uncertainty for the people affected. Rather than waiting until the end of the compulsory purchase process an owner might ask the authority to purchase the land earlier, on compulsory purchase terms. Where possible, and particularly when acquiring residential land, the authority should consider such requests.
Early negotiation about compensation
56. In some cases it may significantly speed up the process and help remove uncertainty if the authority begins negotiations over compensation early, instead of waiting until Scottish Ministers have decided whether to confirm the order. However, this may not be practicable in every case.
57. The authority should ensure that contractors and other people acting on its behalf follow good practice (including the advice in this circular) when dealing with people. It should do what it can to ensure that contractors carry out any agreed work and repair any damage that they cause. It should also do what it can to resolve any dispute.