NIHE will vest land required on behalf of the Association if land is needed for new builds. Certain procedures for compulsory acquisition must be followed.
In some situations, it may be necessary to compulsorily acquire land/property for the necessary provision of social housing. Paragraph 3 of Schedule 6 to the Housing (Northern Ireland) Order 1992, substituted new paragraphs (1) and (1A) in Article 31 of the Housing (Northern Ireland) Order 1981. It also extended the powers of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE) to cover the transfer of existing buildings to another person (including a Housing Association) as well as the existing powers to acquire land for new build. Thus, where a Housing Association is undertaking necessary social housing provision in an area, the NIHE will undertake any vesting required on behalf of the Association.
The Procedures - to be followed by the Association in requesting the NIHE to commence the vesting process are detailed below. There are a number of considerations as to whether it is appropriate to use compulsory acquisition powers to ensure that a Housing Association scheme proceeds.
- housing need - whether there is a need for the scheme
- justification for vesting - whether the need for the scheme is so great that the use of compulsory acquisition powers in warranted
- financial viability - whether the scheme is financially viable
- value for money - whether the scheme represents value for money and will be approved by the NIHE (DPG)
- availability of funding - whether finance is available from the NIHE (DPG) within a reasonable timescale to allow the scheme to proceed when vesting is complete
A number of these considerations are inter-dependent and it is therefore important that all parties co-operate fully to ensure that schemes develop as expeditiously as possible.
As a first step an Association should establish with the appropriate NIHE Area Planner the need for a particular scheme and whether, in the absence of suitable land to be acquired on a voluntary basis, the NIHE would, in principle, consider vesting. It would be helpful to the NIHE if Associations could provide their vesting staff with any information Associations might have about persons who have interests in the land or property which is to be vested. If the outcome of these discussions is positive the Association will need to make a bid for a place in the Social Housing Development Programme (SHDP) in line with procedures as outlined in Scheme Approval.
If there is an objection to a NIHE application to make a vesting order, the Department may require a public inquiry to be held. Should this occur the NIHE will take the lead and the role of Associations will essentially be to provide the NIHE with such evidence as is necessary.
When a vesting order is made the NIHE will transfer the land/property to the Association as soon as is practicable (it will not be necessary to wait until compensation payments are made) at its current market value as assessed by the Land and Property Services (formerly VLA).
Associations should note that all claims for compensation in connection with the vesting process will be dealt with and paid by the NIHE. In some instances land/property vested by the NIHE and transferred to Associations might include tenanted dwellings. In these instances it will be for Associations to make any necessary arrangements for re-housing the tenants and site clearance where appropriate.
Work undertaken by an Association on any land/property transferred after compulsory acquisition may interfere with any facilities enjoyed by NIE in respect of equipment in, under, along or across the land/property. The Department has agreed that any reasonable costs incurred by NIE in making alternative arrangements for the maintenance of electricity supplies in the area will be reimbursed to NIE. Liability for the payment of such reasonable costs will fall in the first instance to the Association undertaking the works; such expenditure by Associations will qualify for Housing Association Grant subject to approval in the normal way.