Com­pen­sa­tion snub from HS2

Only two per cent of home­own­ers will get money

Harefield Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - By Zoe Drewett zoe.drewett@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

HOME­OWN­ERS blighted by HS2 in some ar­eas of the bor­ough are un­likely to get any com­pen­sa­tion ac­cord­ing to na­tional cam­paign group HS2 Ac­tion Al­liance (HS2AA).

HS2AA says a re­port by con­sul­tants PWC, ob­tained fol­low­ing a Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion Act re­quest, es­ti­mates homes up to 120 me­tres from the line could lose 40 per cent of their value, homes 300 me­tres from the line will lose 30 per cent of their value and homes up to 500 me­tres from the line will lose 20 per cent of their value.

But HS2AA says the PWC re­port shows that of the 172,000 homes within one kilo­me­tre of the HS2 route for phase 1 – London to Birm­ing­ham – only 3,000, or less than two per cent, are el­i­gi­ble for com­pen­sa­tion un­der the Gov­ern­ment’s cur­rent schemes.

Richard Houghton of HS2AA said: “It seems that the gov­ern­ment doesn’t want to pro­vide full and fair com­pen­sa­tion to the tens of thou­sands of home­own­ers who are blighted by plans for HS2.

“They ei­ther sim­ply don’t care or don’t have the money to do the right thing.

“Ei­ther way, hard-work­ing tax pay­ers are left with homes worth 20 to 40 per cent less than they should be and in many cases un­sellable.

“By ig­nor­ing our rec­om­men­da­tions for a prop­erty bond scheme, they are hang­ing out tens of thou­sands of home­own­ers to dry – we cer­tainly are not all in this to­gether.”

Home­own­ers in Ick­en­ham and Hare­field were of­fered a re­vised com­pen­sa­tion pack­age un­der the new com­pen­sa­tion schemes an­nounced by the Depart­ment for Trans­port in April.

That is be­cause those ar­eas, beyond the tun­nel por­tal at West Ruis­lip, are now con­sid­ered ‘ru­ral’ and as such are el­i­gi­ble for an ex­press pur­chase scheme for owner-oc­cu­piers of homes within 60 me­tres of the line, a rent-back op­tion and a re­vised vol­un­tary pur­chase scheme for homes up to 120 me­tres from the line.

A home­owner pay­ment scheme would en­ti­tle owner-oc­cu­piers to a cash pay­ment if they live be­tween 120 me­tres and 300 me­tres from the line.

The pay­ments could be be­tween £7,500 to £22,500, de­pend­ing on how close the route is to the prop­erty, and would come into ef­fect fol­low­ing Par­lia­men­tary ap­proval of the route be­tween London and the Mid­lands.

Those who do not want to sell their home will be of­fered a cash pay­ment of 10 per cent of the value of their home from a pro­posed min­i­mum of £30,000 to a max­i­mum of £100,000.

Peo­ple liv­ing above the HS2 tun­nel through South Ruis­lip and Ruis­lip Gar­dens have not had any of­fer of com­pen­sa­tion, as they are con­sid­ered ‘ur­ban’ and are not in­cluded within the ‘sur­face safe­guarded area’ of up to 60me­tres of the line.

Trans­port sec­re­tary Pa­trick McLough­lin launched a con­sul­ta­tion on the new com­pen­sa­tion pro­pos­als on July 8.

HS2AA is call­ing on those blighted to make their voices heard be­fore the con­sul­ta­tion closes on Tues­day, Septem­ber 30, and back a prop­erty bond scheme based on pri­vate sec­tor best prac­tice, which would be avail­able to prop­erty own­ers who suf­fer a loss in prop­erty value due to HS2, re­gard­less of area.

A Depart­ment for Trans­port spokesman said: “HS2 is an ex­cep­tional scheme that jus­ti­fies ex­cep­tional support for peo­ple liv­ing near the line.

“We have an­nounced com­pen­sa­tion and as­sis­tance schemes that go well beyond le­gal re­quire­ments and of­fer an ef­fec­tive means of help­ing peo­ple with blight. This in­cludes pur­chas­ing prop­er­ties at their full, un­blighted mar­ket value.

“We stud­ied the idea of a prop­erty bond very care­fully but felt that it was un­tried, would not fa­cil­i­tate the smooth op­er­a­tion of a nor­mal prop­erty mar­ket and would add to un­cer­tainty rather than re­duce it.”

The spokesman said the fig­ures in the PWC re­port are not pre­dic­tions about blight, but il­lus­tra­tive as­sump­tions for as­sess­ing the cost of dif­fer­ent com­bi­na­tions of prop­erty com­pen­sa­tion schemes.

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