HS2: New compensation scheme announced

Computer-generated visuals of HS2
Computer-generated visuals of HS2

The government has introduced an ‘extensive package of compensation and assistance’ for property owners living close to the proposed HS2 route.

From today, owner-occupiers of homes and small businesses between 60 metres and 120 metres from the line in rural areas can submit an application to HS2 Ltd to purchase their property at the full, un-blighted value under the voluntary purchase scheme.

This is the value of the property as if there were no plans for HS2.

As an alternative to the voluntary purchase scheme, these eligible property owners will also have the option to accept a cash offer of 10% of that same value and stay in their homes and businesses.

The government says ‘this will support people who want to remain in their community’.

Those beyond the 120 metre boundary but within 300 metres of the line in rural areas will, following Royal Assent of the Phase One HS2 Hybrid Bill, be able to apply for a homeowner payment ranging from £7,500 to £22,500, which, according to the government, ‘will enable them to share early in the benefits of the railway’.

These payments are:

> Property between 120m and 180m from the line: £22,500

> Between 180m and 240m: £15,000

> Between 240m and 300m: £7,500

Eligible owner-occupiers living any distance from the line of route can now apply to the need to sell (NTS) scheme, which also pays the un-blighted value to people with a compelling reason to sell their property, but who have been unable to do so – other than at a substantially reduced price – due to HS2.

The criteria for the NTS scheme is more relaxed than the exceptional hardship scheme (EHS) it replaces and, unlike the EHS, will consider applications from those who may not need to move immediately.

HS2 Ltd is writing to those people who may be eligible for the voluntary purchase, cash offer and homeowner payments schemes.

The organisation has also today launched a residents’ charter to help ensure that residents are treated in a ‘fair, clear, competent and reasonable manner’.

It pledges to respond to ‘enquiries about property schemes quickly and efficiently’ (within 20 days at the latest), and be given a named case officer as a point of contact.

The Residents’ Commissioner overseeing the charter has been confirmed as Deborah Fazan.

She has ‘considerable experience as a commissioner and property advisor on transport and construction schemes’.

In her new role, she will ‘ensure that HS2 Ltd meets its commitment to the communication standards and personal support set out in the new charter’.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “This comprehensive package of compensation and assistance is looking after those people who live along the HS2 route while balancing our responsibilities to the taxpayer.

“People at the heart of this vital new railway will also benefit from HS2 Ltd’s new residents’ charter and the appointment of the Residents’ Commissioner, who will ensure that the commitments in the charter are upheld. Building HS2 will create extra space on our rail network, create jobs and support business and is a vital part of the government’s long-term economic plan.”