Public inquiry to begin after order to acquire Vicarage Field met with objections

Compulsory Purchase Order public inquiry to start tomorrow, April 20

A public inquiry into the Compulsory Purchase Order - made to acquire the Vicarage Field shopping centre and surrounding land - will begin tomorrow (April 20) - Credit: Ken Mears

A public inquiry is set to begin after almost 70 objections were received to council plans to acquire the Vicarage Field site for regeneration.

Barking and Dagenham Council wishes to purchase the shopping centre and surrounding land to facilitate its aim of redeveloping Barking Town Centre.

However, a public inquiry must be held to deal with the objections received to those plans. 

Ahead of its first day tomorrow - April 20 - we've prepared a Q&A to explain more.

How can the council acquire the Vicarage Field site and surrounding land?

By using what is known as a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO). 

A CPO is a legal mechanism by which certain bodies, including local authorities, can acquire land without the consent of the owner.

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Such orders are designed for regeneration projects which are of the public interest.

Barking and Dagenham Council made a CPO on June 14, 2021.

Why does the council want to acquire the Vicarage Field site and surrounding land?

The council, its regeneration arm Be First and the mayor of London have a shared desire to redevelop Barking Town Centre.

A statement of case - provided in support of the CPO - outlines: "The existing Vicarage Field Shopping Centre site and street buildings are of a poor design quality and do not create a welcoming entrance to the town centre.

"There is little in the way of contemporary social uses such as cafes and restaurants and currently very limited leisure uses.

"Likewise, there are only a small number of flats above some of the shops on Ripple Road and Station Parade and little in the way of the broad range of different uses normally found in a vibrant, mixed and attractive town centre environment."

What land falls under the CPO?

The statement of case details the following: "The Order Land comprises approximately 31,878 square metres of land in the heart of Barking Town Centre, excluding land where rights for crane oversailing will be acquired.

"Broadly, it is bounded by the railway line to the north alongside St Awdry’s Walk, Station Parade to the west, Ripple Road to the south, and Vicarage Drive, Sunningdale Avenue and St Awdry’s Road to the east."

What happened after the council made the CPO?

On July 13, 2021, the council submitted the CPO to central government for confirmation.

The period to submit objections ran from June 18 to July 16, 2021. 

A total of 67 objections were received - 64 of which are by those with a relevant interest in the land made subject to the CPO.

How will those objections be addressed?

Notice was given on November 25, 2021, that a public inquiry would be held to deal with the objections raised to the CPO.

This decision is made by the secretary of state for the department for levelling up, housing and communities in accordance with the rules surrounding compulsory purchases.

What happens next?

The public inquiry - starting tomorrow at 10am - will be held by an inspector across three sessions:

Session 1 - Wednesday, April 20 - Friday, April 22

Session 2 - Tuesday, April 26 - Friday, April 29

Session 3 - Wednesday, May 4 - Friday, May 6

Once concluded, the inspector will make a recommendation to the secretary of state who will then decide whether to confirm, modify or reject the CPO.

If confirmed, the council will be permitted to compulsorily purchase the land included in the CPO.

Further information can be found here; visit this link to watch via video link.