I am today (16 January 2015) announcing to the House the government’s package of measures to provide assistance to owner occupiers along the line of route for Phase One of the High Speed 2 project (between London and the West Midlands). This is the final outcome of 2 consultations:
I can announce today that the proposal for the alternative cash offer (now named the cash offer) and homeowner payment will be introduced. These schemes aim to help maintain the cohesion of communities along the route of Phase One of HS2 and provide an early share of the benefits.
I can also announce that from today HS2 Ltd will accept applications for voluntary purchase, the cash offer and the need to sell schemes. These schemes supplement those launched earlier this year, namely express purchase and rent back. The result is an exceptional package of measures for an exceptional project. Over 2,500 dwellings are within the express purchase area, rural support zone (within which the voluntary purchase and cash offer schemes are available) and homeowner payment bands. In addition, the need to sell scheme will independently consider applications regardless of the distance from the railway.
Therefore, the full package available to people is as follows:
- express purchase – is for those people living closest to the line, in what is known as the ‘surface safeguarded’ area. Under this scheme owner-occupiers may be able to sell their home to the government, if they wish to do so at its full unblighted market value (as it would be if there were no plans for HS2), plus 10% (up to £49,000) and reasonable moving expenses, including stamp duty
- voluntary purchase - for people in rural areas outside the safeguarding area and up to 120 metres away from the line (this is the area defined as the rural support zone). Owner-occupiers in this area will be able to sell their home to the government for its full unblighted value at any time up until 1 year after Phase One first opens for public use
- the cash offer (known as the alternative cash offer during the consultation). This gives rural owner-occupiers within the rural support zone 2 measures to choose from, if they wish: selling their property to the government for its full unblighted market value under the voluntary purchase arrangements described above or remaining in their home and receiving 10% of that value. This payment is a minimum of £30,000 and is capped at £100,000. This scheme will be available until 1 year after Phase One first opens for public use
- the need to sell scheme – this scheme does not have a boundary and is available to owner-occupiers who have a compelling reason to sell their house (for example this might be as a result of job relocation or ill health) but are unable to do so because of HS2. The government will pay the full, unblighted value for these properties. This scheme replaces the Phase One exceptional hardship scheme (EHS) and those EHS applications that have not been consider by the panel will automatically be transferred to the need to sell scheme. This scheme is available in both urban and rural areas
- the homeowner payment scheme will give rural homeowners outside the voluntary purchase area but within 300 metres of the line the opportunity to share early in the benefits of HS2. These payments will be available following Royal Assent of the hybrid Bill for Phase One and will be tapered as follows: owner occupiers between outside the rural support zone and within 180 metres of the centre line of the railway will receive £22,500, those beyond this and within 240 metres £15,000 and those beyond this and within 300 metres £7,500
The express purchase, voluntary purchase and need to sell schemes are all accompanied by a voluntary rent back option: owner-occupiers who, having sold their property to government would prefer to carry on living there may be able to rent it back, subject to property suitability checks.
In addition, as part of the desire by HS2 Ltd to improve communication with residents and communities near to the route of the railway, it has been agreed that a residents’ charter will be introduced. This will help to ensure that residents are treated in a fair, clear, competent and reasonable manner. It will embrace a number of key principles:
- discretionary property packages will be communicated clearly, in the plainest, non-technical language possible
- individuals will be offered a single named case officer
- individuals will be offered the opportunity to meet in private with a property specialist from HS2 Ltd to explain the discretionary and statutory measures
HS2 Ltd will commit to a reasonable response time for all property related enquiries
Today I am pleased to announce that the charter goes live and that Deborah Fazan has been appointed as the Residents’ Commissioner to oversee the charter and ensure the above principles are adhered to.
This package of measures will be administered by HS2 Ltd under these guiding principles and will signal the beginning of a new relationship with the communities along the route of Phase One of HS2.