Me too, please

You may have formed the (correct) impression from various postings that I have made in connection with the public consultations that have been held on the discretionary property compensation proposals for HS2 that I don’t regard them as particularly fair. It doesn’t seem right to me that eligibility for compensation should be decided based upon the fairly arbitrary criterion of distance from the proposed line of route, rather than taking account of the impact that HS2 is likely to have and the level of blight affecting a property. Distance from the line is a very poor measure of impact; the natural topography, trackbed height and the quality of any proposed mitigation will all affect the impacts that HS2 will have in any locality. Clearly, it will be a totally different matter living 200 metres, say, from HS2 running in deep cutting, than it will be if the track is 20 metres up on a viaduct.

This approach also totally ignores the impact of ancillary works that experience has shown can be some distance from the trackline.

The proposals that are now in place, and the ones that are due to be put in place in the very-near future, will result in situations where a comparatively small number of properties, those within the safeguarding, extended homeowner protection and rural support zones, will be eligible for, at least, full market value compensation. However, equally, or even more highly, blighted property owners will be left swinging in the wind, or palmed off with a derisory homeowner payment, just because their properties lie a few extra metres away from the line of route.

The proposals have also been deliberately designed to limit the total number of property owners who can benefit, solely to meet the Government’s estimate of what is “affordable”. The result is that many thousands of home owners suffering from property blight will be left totally without any help.

However, by far the greatest injustice resulting from the Government’s compensation policy is to those who live in urban areas. You only have to look at what HS2 will mean to Camden, as I have done in past postings on this site, to realise that the impacts in some locations in urban areas will be dire and long-lasting. Yet, residents in urban areas are excluded from the voluntary purchase scheme and the homeowner payments.

In order to seek out an explanation of the Government’s rationale for devising this unjust state of affairs we have to refer to the document that was issued for the 2012-13 compensation consultation, and specifically paragraph 2.16. There we are told that extending the voluntary purchase zone into urban areas “cannot be justified” as it would “encompass homes a number of streets away from the proposed line where the impact of HS2 is likely to be negligible”.

The sense of injustice that I feel with this treatment of urban residents is, I know, shared by many, and I am sure that these people will, like me, be pleased to learn that a cross-party group of London MPs and council leaders has formed an alliance “to urge the Government to grant ‘A fair deal for London’ on HS2 compensation”.

This alliance has set up an e-petition calling on the Government to ensure “fair compensation and mitigation for London’s residents and businesses affected by the construction of HS2”.

If you agree with the points that I have made about the unjustness of the current proposals to urban residents, then I hope that you will feel able to join me in adding your name to this petition.

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One response to this post.

  1. Thank you for highlighting once again our predicament! 20 years of heavy construction on our doorstep is not going to be negligible. Even the houses overlooking the line, which is out of tunnel between Euston Station and the Parkway Portal, where much of the work will be at night, have access to no compensation scheme.

    Reply

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