The political momentum behind the proposed HS2 high speed railway appears to be growing despite considerable opposition and concerns about costs.
HS2 will require huge numbers of compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) if it is to go ahead. The proposed high speed line will also have far reaching effects beyond its direct pathway meaning that much wider compensation schemes are to be put in place.
Details of how HS2 will affect people differently within the same areas have already started to emerge causing concerns about the fairness of the proposed compensation schemes.
Drawing the Line for HS2 Compensation
Under the plans for HS2, any properties located within 30 metres of the proposed tunnel running through parts of London on its route to the Midlands will receive a deed of settlement for any damage or vibration it causes. This will apply both during construction and eventual operation of the line.
Neighbours who live in two parts of the same semi-detached property in Ruislip have found that the two sides of the same property will not be treated equally. Only the side nearest to the planned tunnel will receive a deed of settlement while the other will not as it is more than 30 metres away. Such a split may seem arbitrary given that damage to one part of the building is likely to affect the other.
Due to the scale of the HS2 project, the wider compensation scheme is being managed at the highest levels of government with a parliamentary select committee in place to consider issues that petitioners raise.
Compensation proposals have been announced but are subject to consultation with final details expected in 2015. These will cover compulsory purchase compensation for properties in its pathway and statutory blight for neighbouring properties where their value is affected.
How Does CPO Compensation Normally Work?
Compulsory purchase orders enable local authorities and other bodies to obtain property or land without the consent of the owner. Even with smaller projects than HS2 it is controversial and so local authorities must be able to show that the acquisition of the land or property is “necessary” and “in the public interest”.
If land or property becomes subject to a compulsory purchase order the property owner is usually entitled to receive compensation. Compensation can cover the value of the property as well as the cost of buying a new home and the cost of professional advice. If a property is blighted by a compulsory purchase order of nearby land, compensation may also be available to them under separate statutory provisions.
The underlying principle of CPO compensation is known as equivalence meaning that homeowners should be no better or no worse off financially than they were prior to the compulsory purchase.
The HS2 rail project is unusual in both the size and scope of the potential compensation scheme. Property owners affected directly by CPOs or the wider scheme in general should seek specific legal advice.