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HS2 "Could Leave People Stuck" With Little Compensation

Owners of properties up to half a kilometre away from the planned HS2 rail link might not automatically be able to claim compensation, despite the likelihood of the scheme severely affecting their lifestyles and property values.

According to a PwC report, published recently under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act, properties 500m from the line could fall in value by as much as 20%.

Sharing in HS2 Benefits?

People who live between 120 and 300 metres of the track could be paid sums from £7,500 to £22,500. This will allow them to, as the Government puts it, "share early in the benefits of HS2". Individuals and families who reside nearer can opt not to move and accept cash of between £30,000 and £100,000.

However, ministerial pledges to purchase homes at their full market rate will only be available to people who live within 120 metres of the line, or to others further out who can prove "compelling reasons" to relocate, such as poor health or work.

Disruption Hard to Prove

The Land Compensation Act 1973 entitles people disrupted by the rail link to claim for the loss of their property's value. This could be hard to prove given the distance many live from the track.

Those opposed to HS2 have long asserted that properties even 1 mile from the infrastructure could be adversely affected.

The director of the HS2 Action Alliance, Hilary Wharf, said ministers are not willing to set aside compensation funds for people personally losing out from the new scheme, "An awful lot of people are just stuck."

Possible Cost to Property Owners

The PwC review was set up by ministers to calculate the possible cost to property owners affected by HS2 of a "property bond" – a scheme the Government has since shelved.

The report predicted that severe problems would top out between 10% and 20% for properties 500m away, 15% to 30% for 300m, and between 20% and 40% for properties within 120 metres.

These are expected to stay constant until construction enters its final phases in around 9 years, before decreasing over another 3 years to some 10% at 120m and 2% at 500m from the line, the report said.

PwC's research economists also said that any expected property blight was, "at the upper level of what has traditionally been experienced for individual properties in other schemes". The report said this reflects a "prudent view" that problems could be greater because of HS2 than other mass transit projects.

A spokesperson for HS2 noted that a forthcoming Residents' Charter will clarify what affected residents can expect from the scheme.

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Dated: 10/07/2014

Author: Greg Cox

HS2 compulsory purchase - high speed rail network

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