New UK high speed rail link could see new housing estate demolished

The UK Government has set out its preferred route for the new high speed rail network from Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds but been criticised as it could mean the demolition of a new housing estate.

Officials have confirmed that home owners will be compensated for property that needs to make way for HS2 which is due to be completed by 2033.

‘HS2 is an ambitious and exciting project and the government is seizing the opportunity it offers to build a transport network fit for the 21st century, one that works for all and makes clear to the world that Britain remains open for business,’ said Transport Secretary Chris Grayling.

‘The full HS2 route will be a game-changer for the country that will slash journey times and perhaps most importantly give rail passengers on the existing network thousands of extra seats every day. They represent the greatest upgrade to our railway in living memory,’ he pointed out.

‘But while it will bring significant benefits, I recognise the difficulties faced by communities along the route. They will be treated with fairness, compassion and respect and, as with Phase One, we intend to introduce further compensation which goes over and above what is required by law,’ he added.

On the western leg, HS2 will continue north from Crewe to Manchester Airport on to Manchester city centre, where a new HS2 station will be built next to Manchester Piccadilly and there will also be a connection to Liverpool and to the existing West Coast main line allowing HS2 services to continue north, serving stations to Glasgow and Edinburgh.

On the eastern leg, HS2 will continue from the West Midlands to Toton in the East Midlands, where a new HS2 station will be built to serve Nottingham, Derby and the wider region
continue north from the East Midlands to South Yorkshire and it will serve Sheffield with a connection to the existing station with the main route be moved further east while from South Yorkshire, HS2 will continue to Leeds where a new HS2station will be built in Leeds city centre, adjacent to the existing station

HS2 will also have a connection onto the East Coast Main Line, allowing HS2 to serve York, Newcastle and other places in the north-east

It means that home owners who are most affected by the plans to build Phase 2b can now apply to the government to buy their home. The transport department is also consulting on discretionary property schemes.

Grayling said that these schemes are the same as those currently in operation for people living along the Phase One route. Two of these schemes will enter into operation from today on an interim basis, the Express Purchase and Need to Sell, and if confirmed by the government, all the schemes will be in place until a year after the railway is fully operational.

He also announced that as part of the HS2 Woodland Fund an initial allocation of £1 million is being made available to the Forestry Commission to support projects that will help restore, enhance and extend ancient woodland on private land or in partnership with multiple landowners.

Mark Hayward, managing director of the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) said it is good news that the Government will pay compensation to home owners impacted by the construction of Phase 2 of HS2.

‘However we remain concerned about the prospect of demolishing a brand new housing estate in Mexborough, South Yorkshire. Considerable amounts of money and time has gone into the construction of that estate and it suggests that the Government’s approach to infrastructure construction is dis-jointed,’ he said.

‘People who bought those properties did so under the impression that they would be able to live there for years, bringing up families and creating homes. We call on the Government to fundamentally rethink its plans to ensure that the properties in Mexborough are saved and by doing so preserving homes for years to come,’ he added.

Home owners already living on the estate which is still being built said that they didn’t know about the HS2 plan when they bought their house. According to one, Leigh Smith who moved on to the estate in June, she only found out about it three weeks later.

‘We thought it was a joke. We used absolutely every bit of money we could get to buy this, it’s our first home.
I’m just devastated. We’re all distraught,’ she explained, adding that HS2 planners did not initially know the estate existed as it was so new it did not appear on maps. ‘When they Googled it, this wasn’t here, it was just a piece of empty land,’ she added.

Farming organisations said that hundreds of farmers and rural businesses will suffer a devastating impact on their and property. The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) said those who risk having their land or homes taken by the scheme must be fairly treated.

‘Those affected must have certainty on what land or property will be taken, when it will be taken and whether the owners will get it back after construction, so they can plan for the future as best they can,’ said CLA president Ross Murray.

He called on the Government to ensure that HS2 Ltd, the company responsible for building the £55.7 billion railway, only takes land and property needed for its construction to minimise the impact on rural businesses along the route.

‘HS2 Ltd must work with farmers and landowners to find the best sites for replacement habitat, rather than arbitrarily allocating land next to the line and worsening the impact on rural businesses,’ he added.

Knight Frank is already working with 450 property owners affected by HS2 and James Del Mar, head of the company’s compulsory purchase and compensation team, said the process is very distressing or those affected.

‘Those whose property will be needed for the scheme can start to lodge statutory blight claims. These oblige the government to purchase the property for an agreed value along with financial compensation for the financial impact on farms or other businesses,’ he explained.