• John Gannon

From Possession to Acquisition

Updated: Oct 2, 2017

Land taken into possession (#Possession) for construction can be identified from the plans on which temporary possession requirements are defined:




Temporary Possession Requirements


or by survey. Land to be retained and land to be handed back can be identified by the intersection of the as built extent with the extent taken into possession:




As Built




Land to be handed back


Acquisition of Land and Rights


Take for example a set of land requirements for which acquisition powers have been granted:

  • Permanent acquisition of subsoil >9m below surface;

  • Permanent acquisition of land for related works;

  • Permanent acquisition of rights.



Land Requirements for which acquisition powers granted


and intersecting legal estates:

  • a freehold;

  • a leasehold which excludes subsoil.



Legal Estates


Intersecting the land requirements with the legal estates creates five Acquisition Parcels:




Acquisition Parcels for which acquisition powers granted


Let’s assume that rather than acquire land and rights prior to construction, the acquiring authority has taken temporary possession of the land it needs for construction:

  • Temporary possession of subsoil >9m below surface;

  • Temporary possession of land for related works.



Temporary Possession Requirements


Note that both these requirements are smaller in extent than those for which permanent acquisition powers were granted and that the new rights were not required during the construction stage.


If following construction, the acquiring authority wishes to acquire the land and rights it wishes to retain permanently, it can do so by General Vesting Declaration (GVD) or via the Notice to Treat (NtT) process. Assuming the General Vesting Declaration method is chosen the land and rights to be vested would need to be identified on a plan:




Irrespective of the acquisition method chosen the following notices would need to be served on the freeholder:

  • Acquisition of subsoil > 9m below surface;


Acquisition of freehold subsoil >9m below surface

  • Acquisition of land;


Acquisition of freehold land

  • Acquisition of new rights.



Acquisition of new rights over freehold land


and on the leaseholder:

  • Acquisition of land;



Acquisition of leasehold land


  • Acquisition of new rights.



Acquisition of new rights over leasehold land


If the chosen acquisition method is GVD, when it becomes effective, the following changes to legal estates and interests happen:

  1. The part of the subsoil > 9m below the surface which has been acquired is removed from the freehold land.

  2. A new freehold  is created in the part of the subsoil > 9m below the surface which has been acquired and the acquiring authority becomes its owner.

  3. The land which has been acquired for related works is removed from the freehold land.

  4. A new freehold is created in the land which has been acquired for related works and the acquiring authority becomes its owner.

  5. The land which has been acquired for related works is removed from the leasehold land.

  6. A new leasehold is created in the part of the leasehold land which has been acquired for related works and the acquiring authority becomes its owner.

  7. As the acquiring authority is also the freeholder of this leasehold land, the leasehold is subsumed into the freehold (and therefore ceases to exist).

  8. The new rights acquired become a burden on the freehold and leasehold land which has not been acquired.

  9. The new rights acquired become a benefit to the land acquired for related works.

If the chosen method is Notice to Treat/Notice of Entry, the land and rights would come into the acquiring authority’s possession when the Notice of Entry becomes effective but the changes to the legal estates and interests would not occur until transfer/conveyance following settlement of compensation.

Where the land acquired is less than that taken into temporary possession, as in the examples above, the residue is handed back to the landowner following reinstatement, where required:




Hand back of land in temporary possession


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