In confirming the route, the Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has today issued safeguarding directions for Phase 2a of HS2, to protect land from potential conflicting development. This follows the consideration of public responses to the November 2014 consultation on safeguarding this section of the route.
Issuing safeguarding directions means that owner-occupiers in the safeguarded area (usually 60 metres either side of the line of route) can serve a blight notice, asking the government to purchase their property. In addition to receiving the un-blighted value of their home, eligible owner-occupiers can also expect to receive a home-loss payment of 10% of the value of their home (up to £53,000) and reasonable moving costs.
HS2 will help rebalance our economy by providing more space on our crowded rail network, creating jobs and supporting business. Confirming that the route from the West Midlands to Crewe will open 6 years early is a major boost for the Midlands, Northern Powerhouse and beyond.
HS2 is a transformational scheme and we are committed to helping those who are affected by it. That is why we are proposing a comprehensive package of compensation and assistance for homeowners along the route, which goes well beyond what we are required to do by law. I hope that confirmation of the Phase 2a route will also give communities the certainty they need to plan for the future and make the most of this vital railway.
The proposed package for owner-occupiers along the Phase 2a route includes:
Express purchase scheme
This scheme relaxes some of the criteria that qualifying applicants have to meet in order to have their property bought by the government under a blight notice. The government has launched this particular part of the proposed package today, on an interim basis, to make sure the people most directly affected by HS2 can access assistance with minimal delay and hindrance. Its long term application to the Phase 2a route will be decided as part of the outcome of the consultation on the long-term discretionary schemes.
Voluntary purchase scheme
Owner-occupiers of homes and small businesses between generally 60 metres and up to 120 metres from the line in rural areas would be able to submit an application to HS2 Ltd to purchase their property at the full, un-blighted value under the voluntary purchase scheme. This would be the value of the property as if there were no plans for HS2.
As an alternative to the voluntary purchase scheme, these eligible owner-occupiers would also have the option to accept a cash offer of 10% of the full un-blighted value and stay in their homes and businesses. 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 would, following Royal Assent of the Phase 2a HS2 hybrid Bill, be able to apply for a homeowner payment ranging from £7,500 to £22,500, which will enable them to share early in the benefits of the railway.
Need to sell
Eligible owner-occupiers living any distance from the line of route would be able to apply to the need to sell (NTS) scheme, which would also pay 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 consultation on the proposed package of schemes for Phase 2a will run until 25 February 2016.
The exceptional hardship scheme will remain in place on the Phase 2a route until a final decision has been made on the proposed package of compensation and assistance. It will also remain in place on the wider Phase 2 route until a long term compensation and assistance package is in place there, which we would expect to follow a route decision and consultation, as on Phase 2a. This scheme is designed to help owner-occupiers who for reasons of exceptional hardship have an urgent need to sell their property, but have not been able to do so, except at a substantially reduced price, as a direct result of HS2. Successful applicants will be paid the full un-blighted value of their property.
Accelerating construction to Crewe was recommended by HS2 Ltd Chairman Sir David Higgins in his reports HS2 plus (March 2014) and Rebalancing Britain (October 2014).
Speeding up construction will help deliver further benefits to the north sooner, bringing more capacity and faster HS2 services to the north-west of England, including Crewe, Liverpool, Manchester, as well as Scotland, much sooner than originally planned.
The plans will also help to support growth and deliver jobs more quickly, a vital part of the government’s plans for a Northern Powerhouse.
All property owners affected by safeguarding will receive a letter informing them about potential entitlements.