HS2 COM­PEN­SA­TION ‘TOO LOW’

Home­own­ers com­plain pay­out amounts are ‘nowhere near’ ac­cept­able

Harefield Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - By Ian Proc­tor ian.proc­tor@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

COM­PEN­SA­TION pay­ments pro­posed for home­own­ers liv­ing close to the HS2 line are ‘too low’, ac­cord­ing to coun­cil­lors.

Hilling­don Coun­cil crit­i­cised the sum be­ing of­fered by the gov­ern­ment to qual­i­fy­ing owner-oc­cu­piers un­der two schemes, the al­ter­na­tive cash of­fer and the home­owner pay­ment, an­nounced in April.

The for­mer would be avail­able to those whose prop­er­ties are lo­cated in the Ru­ral Support Zone and within 120m of the route and is in­tended as an al­ter­na­tive to sell­ing their homes to the gov­ern­ment at mar­ket value un­der the vol­un­tary pur­chase scheme. The lat­ter is a ta­pered com­pen­sa­tion scheme for peo­ple whose homes would lie be­tween 120m and 300m away from the tracks in ru­ral ar­eas.

Hilling­don Coun­cil’s of­fi­cial re­sponse to the con­sul­ta­tion, ap­proved on Thurs­day last week by the cab­i­net com­mit­tee, was: “The al­ter­na­tive cash of­fer, based on just 10 per cent of the un­blighted mar­ket value of the prop­erty, is dis­pro­por­tion­ate in terms of both the ac­tual and po­ten­tial de­pre­ci­a­tion which home­own­ers will suf­fer to the value of their prop­er­ties aris­ing from the HS2 scheme.

“There is no jus­ti­fi­ca­tion given for the 10 per cent fig­ure in the con­sul­ta­tion doc­u­ment and proper con­sid­er­a­tion should be given to in­creas­ing it so that it acts as a proper in­cen­tive for prop­erty own­ers to re­main liv­ing in their com­mu­ni­ties.”

It added: “Hilling­don also con­tends that the cap of be­tween £30k and £100k is ar­bi­trary and is not based on any es­tab­lished prin­ci­ples.

“It is too low for the same rea­sons as those set out above.”

The coun­cil calls on the state to pay com­pen­sa­tion to any­one who can demon­strate their homes will be blighted by the HS2 line, not only those who live in the Ru­ral Support Zone, and to make no dis­tinc­tion be­tween large and small business be­cause at present any company with a rate­able value of £34,800 or more would not be el­i­gi­ble to claim.

“Hilling­don con­tends that the above pay­ments are ar­bi­trary and are not based on any es­tab­lished prin­ci­ples or cri­te­ria. As with the al­ter­na­tive cash of­fer scheme, the pro­posed pay­ments are too low and do not recog­nise the vul­ner­a­bil­ity of prop­erty own­ers whose lives will be sig­nif­i­cantly dis­rupted by the HS2 scheme,” the coun­cil’s re­sponse says.

The cut-off own­er­ship date for el­i­gi­bil­ity date for pay­ments of April 9 this year ‘is un­duly re­stric­tive and should be re­moved’ and con­fir­ma­tion is sought that any com­pen­sa­tion pay­ment will be tax free.

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