Some residents in Wendover told to 'give up possession' of their homes by HS2

Clockwise from top left: Phil, Debs, Jess and Elsa Yerby
Clockwise from top left: Phil, Debs, Jess and Elsa Yerby

Residents of much-loved houses and cottages in the picturesque market town of Wendover have began to receive their notices to leave from HS2.

Residents of much-loved houses and cottages in the picturesque market town of Wendover have began to receive their notices to leave from HS2.

Ellesborough Road cottages

Ellesborough Road cottages

The new high speed railway runs through the edge of the village and the properties on Ellesborough Road are to be demolished in order to make way for it.

Phil Yerby, who curently rents one of the cottages and lives there with his wife Debs, daughter Jess and dog Elsa, said:

“We've only been here since April but we love it – this is Wendover's hidden gem. We definitely would have stayed – it's beyond inconvenience.”

The family have been told that they must be out by 30 September this year – 54 days from now.

View from the garden of the cottages on Ellesborough Road in Wendover

View from the garden of the cottages on Ellesborough Road in Wendover

As if to add salt into the wounds, the Yerby family received their notice to leave on the 22 July, which is also their wedding anniversary.

Regarding tenants, A HS2 spokesperson said:

“The properties in Ellesborough Road are required for the new high speed railway and most were purchased by HS2 Ltd several years ago.

“We currently rent these properties out and are giving the tenants over three months’ notice in line with their tenancy agreement. This will enable construction work to begin shortly afterwards.”

A few doors along from the Yerby family we spoke to a long-term resident of Ellesborough Road who own their property and had hoped it would be their forever home.

“We bought this house expecting it to be our long-term home. We expected to be here another 30 years or so. We've renovated it, extended it and spent a lot of money of it.”

The family member, who didn't want to be named, was clearly frustrated with how HS2 has handled the process when they spoke us, particularly regarding the valuation HS2 have given for their house.

“They won't allow an independent valuation. It's only been valued by Her Majesty's revenue and customs local valuer,” they said.

The Wendover resident said that in the end he had little choice but to accept an offer 20% below the market valuation.

“You end up with a blighted valuation and then Revenue and Customs say they have to respect the public purse – i.e. we have to pay you as little as we can.”

While also criticising HS2's communication, accusing them of having “no empathy” and that they often don't reply to emails, the recipient of the compulsory purchase order said:

“We're in a situation right now where we have a live compulsory purchase order but the two sides aren't talking.”

A HS2 Ltd spokesperson said:

“We fully understand how difficult it is for people impacted by the railway and are committed to supporting homeowners in Wendover.

“Every situation is unique and there will often be different opinions about the value of a property. We have a responsibility to establish a price that is fair both for homeowners and the taxpayer, and have a number of schemes to assist people whose property or land may be affected and property valuations are always conducted fairly and transparently. Where there are disagreements over property valuations, alternative dispute resolution or a reference to tribunal is available.”

With reference to ministers delaying the signing off of the formal notice to proceed until December this year, Mr Yerby concluded:

“The whole thing is a bit sad. What worries me is they knock these things down and the whole thing gets cancelled anyway.”

HS2 are building 345 miles of new high-speed track which will connect the city centres of London, Birmingham, Manchester, and Leeds.

In March this year, ministers delayed signing off on the first half of spending for HS2 (London to The Midlands) until December due to concerns over spiralling costs. The cost was originally projected to be £32.7bn in 2010 but the Government now estimates it to be £56bn.

However, two weeks ago it was reported that Allan Cook, chairman of HS2 Ltd, had written to the Minister of Transport to say the project was actually likely to cost around £86bn.

Work is just starting to get underway and will be completed in 2033. Recently the leaders of both Bucks County Council and Aylesbury Vale District Council wrote to Transport Secretary Chris Grayling to request that work be halted until the notice to proceed has been given in December but their pleas were rejected by the Government minister.