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Is HS2 heading for your property? Act now!

29 January 2014

The bill for Phase One of the High Speed 2 railway line was published on 25 November 2013. At almost 50,000 pages, the bill is a rather daunting document to grapple with. If you want to object to HS2 and would like to know what compensation is available if your property is affected, read on! 

Opposition deadline is looming

The bill is essentially the planning application for Phase One of HS2 and is accompanied by an environmental statement which sets out the likely significant effects. The environmental statement was subject to public consultation, with comments due on 10 February 2014. Once comments have been summarised, Parliament will debate the bill at its second reading due to take place in Spring 2014.

After the bill's second reading, the principle of HS2 cannot be opposed, but landowners who are directly affected by Phase One are entitled to petition against the bill [1]. For example, you can oppose details of the proposed route over or under your land or seek undertakings to mitigate the impact of the proposals, such as how your land is reinstated following construction or access to parts of your land which may be severed by the route.

A fee of £20 must be paid when lodging the petition, which must be done in person or through a parliamentary agent. You may then be given the opportunity to appear (in person or by counsel) before the select committee scrutinising the HS2 Bill. The committee has the power to amend the bill and those amendments will then be considered by Parliament. No precise timetable is available, but the government hopes that the bill will receive royal assent before the 2015 general election.

What compensation am I entitled to?

At present, compensation for HS2 can only be claimed in the specific circumstances set out below. The government recently consulted on a more generous compensation package for landowners affected by HS2. That consultation closed on 4 December 2013 and we await the government's response.

Landowners whose land falls within the 'safeguarded area' [2] (60 metres each side of the centre of the proposed track), may serve notice requesting the government to purchase their property.

Before you can request the purchase of your property, you must first try to sell it on the open market. If you are unable to do so (except at a substantially reduced price), and your application is successful, the government will purchase your property for the full market price (disregarding the effect of HS2 on its value). You will also receive a home loss payment of up to 10% of its value (to a maximum of £47,000), plus your reasonable costs of moving.  If you do not provide enough evidence demonstrating your efforts to sell and any offers received, your application may be refused.

Exceptional hardship scheme

An exceptional hardship scheme is available for owner-occupiers who need to sell their property urgently for personal reasons. The property must be situated so close to the route that the construction or the operation of the line would have an adverse effect on it.

The exceptional hardship scheme does not apply to a defined area - unlike the compensation available to those within the safeguarded area - it is the effect of HS2 on the property that determines whether the property is eligible.

You may apply for compensation if you have an urgent need to sell your property, and are unable to do so (except at a substantially reduced price) despite making a reasonable attempt.

If successful, the compensation paid is the open market value of the property (disregarding the effect of HS2). Unlike compensation available to those within the safeguarded area, no home loss payment or reasonable costs of moving will be paid.

For more information please contact Simon Ewing, Partner

T: +44 (0)20 7203 5330


[1] You can see whether your property will be affected by visiting this interactive map: http://www.hs2.org.uk/interactive-map

[2] A map showing the safeguarded area can be found here: http://www.hs2.org.uk/safeguarding