New proposals setting out compensation for residents affected by HS2 in Bucks have been published today by Transport Minister Simon Burns.
The government agreed to re-consult on compensation following a High Court ruling in favour of HS2 Action Alliance in March.
It says the measures go significantly beyond what is required under statute.
But HS2 Action Alliance say the government ‘appears to have learnt very little’ and is holding those affected by the line in ‘utter contempt’.
According to the government the proposals aim to assist property owners who are affected by HS2, as well as supporting the local housing markets along and around the line of route between London and the West Midlands.
Changes to the consultation from last year include the time period requirement in trying to sell property to qualify for the long-term hardship scheme being reduced from a year to six months, the option to sell and then rent back homes being extended to blighted property and not just those which will be demolished and the ‘advanced purchase scheme’ now being called ‘express purchase scheme’.
Mr Burns said: “HS2 is a vital scheme that will help rebalance our economy and generate economic growth.
“It will free up vital space on our railways for passengers and freight, generate hundreds of thousands of jobs and deliver better connections between our towns and cities.
“However, we will do everything possible to minimise the effect on those living on the route. We are committed to fairly compensating those who are affected and I want to hear views on the generous and comprehensive measures we have set out.
“This is a complex area which we are determined to get right. That is why we pledged to look again at how to help property owners - including consulting on a property bond - and that is exactly what we have done.”
The proposals include:
> Express purchase – A streamlined system of purchasing properties that are within the safeguarded area - giving greater certainty to owner-occupiers closest to the line that the Government will buy their homes at the full un-blighted value, along with additional compensation of 10% up to a value of £47,000 and reasonable moving costs;
> 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. Like the Exceptional Hardship Scheme the Government introduced in 2010 which is still operational, this would have no defined geographical boundary; and
two possible approaches to renting homes to their former owners following Government purchase.
The Government is also consulting on two potential options which would provide further assistance in rural areas, these are:
> Property bonds - a transferrable guarantee that the Government would act as the buyer of last resort for those living close to the route
> Or a voluntary purchase scheme - for owner-occupied properties within 120 metres of the route.
The previous consultation on measures to assist and compensate property owners took place from October 2012 to January 2013.
The Government is now re-consulting on most elements of that consultation as well as additional measures. However, it says that to avoid unnecessary delay there is no re-consultation on proposals for:
> Restoring confidence in the value of properties above tunnels; or
> How it should seek to ensure the replacement of any social rented housing that is lost as result of HS2.
The consultation launched today will run for 12 weeks, closing on 4 December.
Final schemes should come into operation by next summer.