HS2 blighted property

25/01/2016

The Government’s recent comments about its intended announcement to secure the Fradley to Crewe section of Phase 2 of HS2 indicate that we can expect a Safeguarding Direction to be issued on this section of Phase 2 before the end of 2015. This means that those with property or land along the proposed route will then know how their property will be affected by HS2.

The Safeguarding Direction will protect the route from any development that may compromise the construction and operation of the rail line itself. More importantly for landowners, the Safeguarding Direction triggers the Blight Notice procedure. If, as a landowner, small business or farmer you fulfil certain criteria, then you will be able to serve a Blight Notice on HS2 Limited/Department for Transport and claim compensation.

A Blight Notice is, in practical terms, a speeded-up form of compulsory purchase. In reality, it means a land or property owner can say to the Government, “I don’t want to wait for a number of years for the Government to come along and compulsorily purchase my property, I want the Government to purchase my land or property now at its full market value”. This process gives property and land owners an element of control over the timescale for purchase of the property or land, and provides certainty and the ability to move on.

Allied to the Blight Notice procedure is the Government’s Express Purchase Scheme, which is currently applied to the Safeguarded areas on Phase 1 of HS2 in the Midlands. HS2 are likely to announce the introduction of this compensation scheme for HS2 when they issue the Safeguarding Direction. Under this Scheme a landowner would need to fulfil the same Blight Notice criteria, except that the landowner would not need to show that they had tried to sell their property over a period without success because of the blighting effect of HS2.

It is likely that HS2 will dispense with the current Exceptional Hardship Scheme for Phase 2 and introduce the more flexible Need to Sell Scheme which is operating in the Midlands. This means that those home owners who have a pressing need to sell but have not been able sell in the normal housing market because of HS2 may have a better chance of persuading the Government to buy the property at its full market value.

Iain Johnston, a planning and HS2 expert with Beswicks Legal in Staffordshire, says, “HS2 may also introduce the Rural Support Zone or Voluntary Purchase Zone, a compensation scheme generally applied to those land and property owners up to 120 metres from the centre line of the railway”.

“Land and property owners will need to keep watch for the announcement of the Safeguarding Direction. There are many outstanding queries that have been raised by landowners on the Fradley to Crewe section of the route. For example, will the Safeguarding Direction seek to fix the plans that were published last year between Fradley and Crewe, or will HS2 seek to produce more detailed plans which may well show more extensive areas of Safeguarding? Certainly any comparison of the finalised plans in the Midlands on Phase 1 to those plans announced last year for Fradley to Crewe show a radical difference. All landowners and businesses along the route will need to check the Safeguarding Direction and Plans to assess the impact on their land or business.”

It is also thought likely that the Government will finally announce its preference for Crewe as a hub-station, rather than Stoke on Trent. The construction and operation of a hub-station on the southern edge of Crewe will have a significant economic effect on the town and the area in general.

If you need any initial no obligation advice or any further information about how the Safeguarding Direction may affect your land, home or business please contact Iain Johnston at Beswicks Legal on 01782 205000 or iain.johnston@beswicks.com