In January I announced the government would proceed with plans to build a high speed rail network linking London with Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester. This is a vital project that will create jobs, drive economic growth and provide a solution to the capacity crunch facing our existing rail network. Work on the project continues apace and I will be publishing my preferred routes for the second phase of the project in the autumn.
Alongside January’s decision I confirmed my intention to deliver a generous compensation package for those affected by the route which goes over and above the minimum required by law.
I am acutely aware of the impact that the proposals for HS2 are having on the property markets along the line of route from London to the West Midlands. The impacts on property are some of the most direct and personal effects of HS2. This is why we have committed to going above and beyond the statutory requirements for property compensation.
Developing the right property compensation package is complex as it needs to be fair to those living and working along the HS2 London to West Midlands route while recognising our broader responsibility to the taxpayer. It was clear from the responses to the consultation that we held last year that property compensation was an issue that generated a considerable amount of understandable concern from those affected. In addition, from personally dealing with the casework from the operation of the existing Exceptional Hardship Scheme, I recognise the range and complexity of issues that the property and compensation package for HS2 will need to deal with. This all means that it is imperative that we put in place the right package.
I am keen to consult as soon as possible to provide people with certainty but, given the nature of the issue and its implications for Phase Two and work to assess stations and route options, it is clear to me that the detailed work to fully assess options means that we will consult on the property and compensation package for HS2 after Parliament returns from its summer recess in September. I understand that this delay will not be welcomed by individuals and businesses who had hoped to see an earlier resolution to the uncertainty surrounding HS2 property and compensation policies. However, this will enable the government to put forward a comprehensive, practical and affordable package of property and compensation measures. I will be writing to those likely to be most directly affected by the project to explain this change.