The Department for Transport is today (12 September 2013) beginning a period of public consultation on long-term property compensation measures for Phase One of HS2.
HS2 is set to become a vital part of Britain’s infrastructure. This new high speed line will open up opportunities for the UK that we have not seen in generations. Its scope to transform this country is enormous, bringing our cities closer together and re-shaping the economic geography of this country.
Although HS2 will benefit the whole country, the government understands the impact that these proposals have on property owners affected by the route. We have had a discretionary scheme in place for Phase One since 2010 to allow us to buy properties from people experiencing exceptional hardship and unable to sell because of our proposals; however the government has always been clear that it intends to go further than this in order to assist affected property owners. The proposals laid out today (12 September 2013) are designed to do just that.
We have consulted before on long-term property compensation for Phase One. However, some of the decision-making about the government’s preferred schemes was challenged in a Judicial Review and in the light of the High Court’s judgment in March 2013, the government immediately undertook to re-consult.
Today (12 September 2013) we have launched the new consultation, seeking the public’s views on a package of measures designed to assist individuals in a range of circumstances, whether their property is directly on the line of route or further away. Though similar to the package consulted on previously, we have taken a fresh look at the options available and introduced a number of new ideas.
Within the safeguarded area, we have proposed a streamlined system of purchasing owner-occupied properties to give greater certainty to the owner-occupiers closest to the line that we will buy their homes.
The proposals also include a long term hardship scheme for owner-occupiers who have strong personal reasons to move but cannot do so, other than at a significant loss, because of HS2. This scheme would have no defined geographical boundary.
In rural areas, we have outlined 2 potential options which would provide further assistance. One option is for the government to issue property bonds, a transferable guarantee that the government would act as the buyer of last resort for those living close to the Phase One route. We are also seeking the public’s views on a voluntary purchase scheme for owner-occupied properties within 120 metres of the Phase One route.
We are committed to fairly compensating those who are affected and we want to hear people’s views on the generous and comprehensive measures we have set out. By supplementing the measures that are already available through the compensation code, these proposals go significantly above and beyond what is required under statute. Owner-occupiers within the safeguarded areas who sell their homes to the government would receive the payments laid down in the compensation code. Those further away would receive 100% of the un-blighted value of their properties – that is, its value if there were there no proposals for HS2.
Also subject to consultation are two approaches to renting property back to its previous owner after purchase by the government as a result of HS2.
The consultation will run for 12 weeks, closing on 4 December 2013. Following a period of careful consideration, the final schemes should come into operation by summer 2014.
I can also announce today (12 September 2013) that the government will not consult further on proposals pertaining to properties above tunnels or the replacement of lost social housing relative to Phase One. In the coming weeks, we will publish details of the government’s approach to these issues.
Whatever the outcome of the consultation, the government is determined to build a fair and effective package of support for property owners.
Copies of the consultation document, ‘Property compensation consultation 2013’ and other supporting documents will be placed in the libraries of the House.