Residents affected by the first phase of HS2 from London to the West Midlands will be offered a comprehensive package of compensation measures which go significantly beyond statutory requirements, the government has confirmed.
HS2, a national high-speed rail network linking Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds with London and Heathrow, will transform the UK – bringing cities together, delivering jobs and growth, and providing a long-term solution to the capacity crunch facing the existing rail network. Stations will also be situated in the East Midlands and South Yorkshire, while high speed trains will continue on the existing rail network to serve destinations further north and into Scotland. The government has already consulted on the route of the first phase of the project to the West Midlands and the Transport Secretary will publish his preferred routes for the second phase of the scheme later this year.
However, the government recognises the impact the project is having on property markets along the first phase of the route and, after careful consideration, has decided to go above and beyond what is required by law.
The measures proposed go beyond the statutory requirements by:
providing a government commitment to buy any owner-occupied home in the ‘safeguarded area’ closest to the route. As set out in law, the government will then pay the full un-blighted value of the property, along with additional
compensation of 10 per cent up to a value of £47,000;
establishing a ‘voluntary purchase zone’ immediately outside of the safeguarded area in rural areas, within which homeowners can sell their homes at their full un-blighted value;
a long term hardship scheme to help those with a need to move during the development of HS2 but who are unable to sell their home;
a sale and rent back scheme to give more flexibility to homeowners who wish to stay in properties which will ultimately be required to allow for construction work;
a package of measures to provide clarity and reinforce confidence in properties above tunnels, including before and after surveys;
a commitment to work with local authorities, housing associations and affected tenants to develop a strategy for replacing any lost social rented housing.
Rail minister Simon Burns said:
“HS2 will completely transform the UK. It will define our country, not just for the 21st century but beyond – linking our major cities in a way previous generations could only dream of.
“No major infrastructure project on this scale can be built without some impact on local communities, but I am determined to do everything I can to minimise the effect of HS2 on those closest to the line.
“We have developed the right compensation package, providing absolutely the right support for those affected, while at the same time protecting the interests of taxpayers. We have thought long and hard about this and the measures I have announced are fair and strike the right balance for local communities and the British taxpayer.”
The compensation package announced is comparable with the arrangements put in place for homeowners affected by the construction of HS1. It will now be subject to a period of consultation until 31st January 2013.
Alongside the proposed compensation package, HS2 Ltd and the Department for Transport has also launched a three-month consultation aimed at local authorities on safeguarding the land needed in order to build and run the line between London and the West Midlands. Safeguarding is the technical term for the planning mechanism that protects large-scale public infrastructure projects from conflicting developments nearby.