What is HS2?
HS2 is the proposed high speed railway to link London Euston, the West Midlands, Leeds and Manchester. With trains intended to travel at speeds of up to 250mph, the project is said to be able to cut journey times between the stations significantly. The project is proposed in three stages - Phase 1 is between London Euston and the West Midlands; Phase 2a is the section between the West Midlands and Crewe and Phase 2b will be between Crewe and Manchester and between the West Midlands and Leeds. The project is run by HS2 Limited, an executive non-departmental public body, which is sponsored by the Department for Transport.
How can we help
- Negotiating agreements for access for ecological surveys and ground investigation surveys.
- Negotiating agreements with HS2 for the construction of mitigation requirements.
- Advising on the compensation schemes available and eligibility for compensation generally.
- Homeowner Payment Scheme contracts for receipt and certificates.
- Strategic review of land interests in the light of HS2, tenancy renewals.
- Statutory blight notices.
- Compulsory Purchase and associated compensation claims.
- Judicial review.
- Planning and development.
- Tax advice including on capital taxes aspects arising out of the sale of land and the tax treatment of compensation payments.
- Sale and purchase transactions and conveyancing of farms, estates, commercial and residential properties.
HS2 the facts
Works on Phase 1 are due to start in June 2017 and are scheduled for completion in 2026. However, this timeframe may well slip given royal assent of the HS2 (London-West Midlands) Hybrid Bill was initially scheduled for 2015.
Phase 2a from the West Midlands to Crewe is due to open in 2027, and Phase 2b is scheduled for completion in 2033.
The project is currently estimated to be at a cost of £55.7 billion. However, those both for and against the project have criticised the estimate predicting the actual cost will be considerably higher. Lord Bradshaw, a former British Rail chief operations manager told the House of Lords that he was wholeheartedly behind the HS2 project. However he said that the costings were not soundly based or up to date due to "flimsy costs estimates".
The project is highly controversial not just because of the cost to the taxpayer but also for the detrimental impact it will have on the environment. The route passes through picturesque countryside including areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONBs) and will inevitably damage the ecosystems that they support. Also, many predict that rather than linking the north and the south, as it was billed to do, the railway will simply boost economic activity in London with the majority of the jobs created being in the capital, at the expense of the rest of the country.
The HS2 (London - West Midlands) Hybrid Bill which deals with Phase 1 is due to receive royal assent at the end of February 2017. Once that happens, HS2 Limited will be granted the powers it requires to:
- build and maintain Phase 1 and its associated works;
- compulsorily acquire interests in the land required for the construction and operation of Phase 1;
- modify infrastructure belonging to utility companies and other statutory undertakers;
- carry out work on listed buildings and to demolish buildings in conservation areas;
- carry out protective works to buildings and third-party infrastructure.
The route for Phase 2 was confirmed (and safeguarded) in 2016. A hybrid bill to set out the design, specifications and powers required for the construction of Phase 2 is expected in around 2019.
To check how close the route of HS2 is to your home or business, you can make a search by entering your postcode in the Location Search box on the left hand side on this Interactive Map. The legend on the interactive map shows what form the line will take along its route. We can help you to identify whether you may be eligible to apply for any of the HS2 compensation schemes.
Your eligibility for compensation depends upon several factors, not just your proximity to the route. You will not automatically be entitled to compensation if you are within the safeguarded area. Various criteria apply. Equally you may still be eligible for one or more of the schemes if your property is outside of the safeguarded area. If you would like any advice or assistance to establish what you may be eligible for, please do get in touch with our HS2 Team.
Safeguarding is a planning tool which essentially provides the Government and HS2 Limited with a certain amount of control to prevent conflicting development on the land which has been identified as being required to construct and operate the HS2 railway. Safeguarding directions for much of Phase 1 of the HS2 route between London and the West Midlands were issued on 9 July 2013. Updated directions for Phase 1 were issued on 26 June 2014 which replaced all previous versions.
In November 2016 Safeguarding directions were issued in respect of Phase 2.
The consequence in terms of planning is that if the Local authority receives a planning application in respect of any property within the safeguarded area (usually up to 60 metres either side of the route) it is usually obligated to notify HS2. HS2 then assesses whether the proposed development within the Safeguarded Area is in conflict with its plans for the railway. If there is no conflict then in theory the planning application should be allowed to go ahead.
On safeguarding directions being issued, statutory blight is triggered.
Statutory blight is a statutory position which enables you to sell your property to the Government for the un-blighted open-market value - In other words for the open market value of the property as if the proposal for HS2 did not exist. If all of part of your property is situated within the safeguarded area, your property will be affected by statutory blight and you may be eligible to serve a statutory blight notice.
Statutory blight notices can be served by owner-occupiers of:
- residential property;
- business premises with a rateable value of £34,800 or less; and
- agricultural units (including a house) that fall within, or partly within, the safeguarded zone.
Statutory blight notices can only be served for the whole property, not just part of it. If only part of a farm or estate is affected, farmers and landowners can, in theory, serve a statutory blight notice, however HS2 Ltd can legitimately refuse to accept the notice where not all of the property is required for the construction or use of the line. It may be worth considering the service of a statutory blight notice in an attempt to bring HS2 Ltd to negotiate a sale and or compensation package as they will review each application individually.
Our HS2 experience
Acting for landowners whose land is dissected by the proposed construction of a rail hub. After months of negotiations between HS2 and agents, HS2 announced that it was withdrawing its offer for our clients to build the mitigation screening on their land within the safeguarded area. After further discussions and meetings seeking to re-open negotiations between us and HS2, HS2 has agreed a mutually agreeable way forward.
Advising an agricultural charity, whose offices are situated within 300 metres of the route for Phase 1, on its prospects of obtaining compensation under the HS2 compensation schemes.
Negotiating various agreements including access agreements for ecological surveys and ground investigation surveys.
On site meetings with HS2 and National Grid.
Managing access and access payments.
Preparing and drafting Statutory Blight Notices in relation to residential properties within the safeguarded zone.
Advising in relation to a statutory blight claim in respect of a scrapyard located close to one of the West Midlands stations.
Advising on issues surrounding statutory blight claims for companies which own residential properties within the safeguarded zone, in particular whether properties held by companies satisfy the requirements of section 168 of the TCPA 1990 due to the way in which the properties are held.
Advising, together with Counsel, on a potential appeal of a decision taken by HS2 to reject a statutory blight notice.
Acting for a substantial contractor to HS2 in a rating and pricing dispute which has now been resolved.
- Advising on the Homeowner Payment Scheme and completing contracts for receipt and certificates.