Proposals for additional assistance for property owners in rural areas close to the route of HS2 between London and the West Midlands have been published today (8 July 2014) for consultation by Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin.
The consultation sets out further information on 2 schemes - an alternative cash offer and a homeowner payment scheme.
The intention to consult on these was originally announced when the government set out its comprehensive package of compensation and assistance for property owners on 9 April 2014.
The improved package included a voluntary purchase scheme for owner-occupiers in the rural support zone (between 60 and 120 metres from the line in rural areas). This gives them the option of selling their home to the government for what it would be worth had there been no plans for HS2.
From today, the government is seeking views on another option which would allow these owner-occupiers to stay within their community. The alternative cash offer would give them 10% of their home’s value (capped at between £30,000 and £100,000). Both the voluntary purchase and alternative cash offer schemes would start by the end of this year and last until one year after the trains start running.
The homeowner payment scheme would give owner-occupiers living beyond the rural support zone (between 120 and 300 metres of the line) the opportunity to share early in the benefits of HS2 by receiving a cash payment. Those between 120 and 180 metres of the centre of the line of the railway would receive £22,500; between 180 and 240 metres the sum would be £15,000 and for those between 240 metres and 300 metres, £7,500. The scheme would launch as soon as possible after Royal Assent to the hybrid Bill.
Patrick McLoughlin said:
HS2 is an exceptional scheme that justifies an exceptional support for people living near the line. It is only right that those people are properly looked after.
The compensation and assistance package I announced in April is already enabling us to help people more. I am now asking for further views on 2 supplementary cash payments which provide an incentive for property owners to remain in their community and enable early sharing of the benefits of the railway.
HS2 will transform many people’s lives for the better, but where its impacts are less positive we are doing all we can to provide the right help.
In April, the government launched an express purchase scheme for owner-occupiers of properties closest to the line, in the area known as the ‘surface safeguarded area’ (generally within 60 metres from the proposed line). Under this scheme, the government is buying properties at the full unblighted market value, plus 10% (up to £47,000) and reasonable moving expenses, including stamp duty. The scheme is designed to be quick, clear and as straightforward as possible to make it easier for owner-occupiers to sell their property to the government, if they wish to do so.
A ‘rent-back’ option has also been made available which will mean that those people who want to sell their properties but carry on living where they are, may be able to do so.
The exceptional hardship scheme continues to be available for those who have an urgent need to sell their home but are unable to do so because of HS2. The government has already bought 140 properties at a cost of around £83 million from owner-occupiers living near the route. This is under the discretionary exceptional hardship scheme for people with a pressing need to sell.
In April, the government also announced its intention to replace the exceptional hardship scheme with a need to sell scheme and consider applications to buy properties at full unblighted market value from owner-occupiers who have a compelling need to sell, such as job relocation or ill health, but who are unable to do so because of plans to build HS2. This scheme does not have a boundary. The government hopes to have this scheme available in urban and rural areas by the end of 2014 when it will replace the exceptional hardship scheme.
The government believes this package represents the best possible balance between properly helping people and providing value for money for the taxpayer.
The consultation closes on 30 September 2014.