February 20, 2013

HS2 Route: What is the position for those potentially affected?

Given the publicity revolving around the Government’s announcement on High Speed 2 (HS2), which is the term used for the northern sections of the route from Birmingham to Leeds and Manchester respectively, we thought it would be useful to give everyone a brief summary of what the position is for those potentially affected.

In January 2012 the Government announced the intention to build HS2.  The Government only announced the week before last week the initial preferred route for Phase 2, it is an initial preference only and is still to be subject to public consultation which is simply scheduled to start n 2013, dates to be announced.  Following public consultation there will be an Act of Parliament, subject to the various processes therein, before the route is actually confirmed.  There will not be any Inquiries. The confirmed route may not be exactly as that indicated as a preference although significant deviations would be a unexpected.

Potentially affected landowners have received letters stating that their land and buildings are on the preferred route and thus could be ultimately subject to a Compulsory Purchase Order with its accompanying statutory compensation.

The Compulsory Purchase Powers to enable HS2 to be built will be in a bill which is expected to gain Royal Assent in 2016.  Following the Bill’s enactment land either side of the actual route will be safeguarded meaning that all planning applications in this zone will have to be referred to HS2 to ensure that they do not interfere with the scheme.

Compensation will not be available until the route is confirmed (i.e. the Bill is enacted). At this point a Blight Notice can be served on the Government requiring them to purchase the property on compulsory purchase terms. There will be restrictions on who can do this:- residential owner-occupiers, owner-occupied businesses (up to £34k rateable value), owner-occupiers of agricultural units, some mortgagees and personal representatives.   As you can see this provision will be of no use to commercial operators who will simply have to wait to follow the usual compulsory purchase procedure i.e. negotiating a value with a view to selling to the government or eventually arguing the case in the Lands Tribunal.     
 
Compensation is a particularly complex area of law.  That being said, if you are keen to know how this is calculated please contact us for an overview of what is potentially available. 
 
We will provide regular updates as to what is happening but for the meantime, there is nothing that those potentially affected can do other than watch this space.  We will happily advise on potential ways of maximising any value of a compulsory purchase compensation claim if and when the route is confirmed.

To discuss this in more detail, please contact Rob House a solicitor in Gordons’ planning and environmental department on 0113 227 2128 or at rob.house@gordonsllp.com.