THE Department for Transport (DfT) has revealed who will be compensated and by how much as a result of the plans for HS2.
Homeowners blighted by HS2 from the start have been able to use the long-term hardship scheme if they needed to move house, but the latest package sets out compensation levels for homes in and close to the 'safeguarding zone' - the area either side of the rail corridor protected for HS2 works.
The DfT says it is going 'significantly beyond statutory requirements' with its compensation measures, which include:
* providing a government commitment to buy any owner-occupied home in the safeguarded area closest to the route. As set out in law, the government will then pay the full un-blighted value of the property, along with additional compensation of 10 per cent up to a value of s47,000;
* establishing a voluntary purchase zone immediately outside of the safeguarded area in rural areas, within which homeowners can sell their homes at their full un-blighted value;
* a long term hardship scheme to help those with a need to move during the development of HS2 but who are unable to sell their home;
* a sale and rent back scheme to give more flexibility to homeowners who wish to stay in properties which will ultimately be required to allow for construction work;
* a package of measures to provide clarity and reinforce confidence in properties above tunnels, including before and after surveys;
* a commitment to work with local authorities, housing associations and affected tenants to develop a strategy for replacing any lost social rented housing.
Rail minister Simon Burns said: "No major infrastructure project on this scale can be built without some impact on local communities, but I am determined to do everything I can to minimise the effect of HS2 on those closest to the line.
"We have developed the right compensation package, providing absolutely the right support for those affected, while at the same time protecting the interests of taxpayers. We have thought long and hard about this and the measures I have announced are fair and strike the right balance for local communities and the British taxpayer."
Consultation will run until January 31, 2013.
Lottie Jones of Ruislip Against HS2 told the Gazette: "My first response is that we have been waiting for this compensation to be announced for so long.
"The government claims to be so generous and go 'above and beyond', but it is still statutory blight."
She said the maps showing the safeguarded zone simply blighted properties more, and she pointed to the more generous compensation rules, based on distance from the line, offered to people living in rural areas.
"My interpretation is [the government] cannot afford to compensate people in urban areas because there are thousands if us, and that would push up the cost of this white elephant and make it even more unaffordable than it already is."
Mrs Jones said question marks remained over whether people living close to or on top of tunnelled sections of the line would be properly compensated or have their homes bought, and she urged everyone affected to get involved with the consultation.
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ESTATE agent Knight Frank has immediately come out with the following advice: "For those owner-occupiers whose properties will actually be demolished, the government proposes a 'sale-and-rent-back' package, whilst streamlined advance purchase, voluntary purchase and 'peace-of-mind' measures for those living above tunnels are also outlined.
James Del Mar, head of Knight Frank’s HS2 team, said; “The first thing affected property owners should do is find out which zone their property is in.
"Once they have established that, they can find out which discretionary compensation scheme may be relevant. This will allow them to either respond to the consultation if they feel the packages are inadequate or start to plan for which packages they should apply for.
"Alternatively, they may conclude it will be better to make a claim based on existing legislation such as Statutory Blight and Compulsory Purchase Orders.
“We will be looking very carefully at the details once they are finalised before advising our clients whether to take advantage of them or not.
“Farmers and rural landowners will need to plan particularly carefully and take expert advice because they are likely to own a number of affected property types – farmland, commercial buildings and residential property – that fall within the various zones and could be eligible for a number of the different compensation packages.”
“Whether the 60m safeguarding strip will be adequate along the entire route is debatable, but it does seem wrong that the sale-and-leaseback scheme only applies to those whose houses will need to be actually demolished. Other properties should also qualify.
“There are still going to be many people who will not qualify for any form of compensation for the loss in value of their homes caused by HS2 until one year after the line has been operational.
"That strikes me as iniquitous, particularly to those who live outside the Voluntary Purchase Zone and want to move home, but will not qualify for the revised hardship scheme even though HS2 has reduced the value of their homes.”
For more information call Knight Frank on 01488 688507.