Privately owned property is often compulsorily acquired for the greater benefit of the community. For example, if there’s a new infrastructure project – authorities have the legal right to compulsorily acquire property in its path. The private property’s owner is compensated for the property, plus expenses incurred along the way and, of course, the inconvenience of having their property acquired.
Most developed countries adopt this practice and it’s widely accepted as ‘the way it is done’. There are stringent legal processes around compulsory acquisitions, set out in legislation such as the Land Acquisition and Compensation Act 1986. The rights of a property owner who loses even an inch of their property are clear.
But what happens to the owners next to the owner who gets acquired? The properties that remain either side of the infrastructure path? What rights do they have to compensation? Who protects their interests? Is it just tough luck to be adjoining the infrastructure path but not on it?
That’s where voluntary purchases schemes arise.