As a condition of its franchise, Chiltern Railways Limited had the obligation to create a new railway link between London and Oxford at its own cost.

Various options were considered to achieve this obligation. The outcome of this option appraisal was to apply for a Transport and Works Act Order to; build a new chord line linking the London to Birmingham mainline at Bicester to the existing underutilised line to Oxford and to significantly upgrade that line.

This was the most significant TWAO for a railway scheme applied for and funded by a private sector body, estimated to cost in the order of £200m. Although this was an existing railway line that was upgraded, it required significant compulsory acquisition and use of land and property outside the railway corridor, to cost in the order of £11m. This compulsory acquisition or use of land was necessary for:

  • the sites of new bridges to allow 38 level crossings to be closed
  • the site of the new chord line
  • the significant enlargement of an existing station at Bicester Town
  • a new park and ride station at Water Eaton
  • the acquisition of new access rights over adjacent property necessitated by the closure of level crossings
  • the acquisition of land to form the sites of replacement Badger Setts and Newt Habitats, necessary to comply with the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations

These land and property requirements needed the acquisition and use of the following types of property:

  • a commercial business park
  • existing Network Rail stations at Bicester and Oxford
  • a planning consented Waste Transfer Site
  • residential development land
  • agricultural land, including that subject to Stewardship Schemes and SSSI’s
  • Ardent was appointed at the outset of this application process to deal with:
  • Land Referencing and Book of Reference production
  • Production of the Deposited Plans and Sections and Open Space Plans, Public Rights of Way Plans, the Planning Direction Drawings and all ancillary agreement plans
  • Landowner consultation
  • Compensation cost input into option appraisals
  • The compensation cost estimate to feed into the Estimate of Costs required under Rule 10(3)(b)(ii) of the Transport and Works (Applications and Objections Procedure) (England and Wales) Rules 2006
  • Landowner objection management
  • Drafting rebuttal Evidence
  • Acting as property Expert Witness at the Public Inquiry
  • Since the completion of the Public Inquiry Ardent has continued to be appointed to deal with:
  • Changing land requirements for replacement habitats to ensure compliance of the project with the Habitat Regulations
  • Project Management of the License applications required to facilitate the movement of Protected Species
  • Advanced discussions with landowners to minimise compensation payable
  • Identification and allocation of all application process obligations created between the relevant parties
  • Taxation cost estimates to aid the property acquisition strategy
  • Construction procurement strategy advise to include the compulsory purchase process into the strategy to assist cost risk sharing