A leading law firm has assembled a team of top solicitors in a bid to help homeowners, landowners and business owners fight to get the right compensation for their property acquired by HS2 or where it has been adversely affected by HS2 under certain criteria.
HS2 Ltd is currently undertaking what is the largest land acquisition project since the Second World War, involving thousands of homes and properties along the high speed rail route designed to link London, Birmingham, the East Midlands, Leeds and Manchester.
As part of the process, HS2 is applying its qualification criteria to the letter in order to minimise compensation payouts, or to delay compulsory purchase payments, meaning that many owner occupiers are seriously out of pocket.
Leamington Spa based law firm Wright Hassall has been handling increasing numbers of enquiries from distressed home and business owners who have hit a brick wall when trying to deal with HS2.
The ten-strong team is headed up by Sarah Beer whose family’s farm in Offchurch, Leamington, is directly affected by HS2 as the line is set to go straight through it, with work starting at the end of September.
Sarah said: “There has been criticism in the media about how HS2 is handling some compulsory purchases and the money that is being made available to do this. We see this happening in practice on a daily basis.
“There have been a number of cases where payments have been delayed and there is a feeling that HS2 is pushing the limits of its powers under the High Speed Rail (London to West Midlands) Act 2017. In particular, HS2’s decision to acquire all the land it requires initially on a temporary basis, including land it knows it will eventually acquire permanently, means that permanent acquisition may be delayed by several years. Consequently, this means that the property owner may not be properly compensated for the land they have lost until much, much later down the line. It also allows HS2 to postpone having to shell out money for the land it will permanently acquire.
“Quite often, people feel that they have to go it alone and not seek professional advice over what they can do. That isn’t the case and people shouldn’t feel bullied or pressured into accepting something which is significantly below what is theirs by right. The number of enquiries we are getting is increasing but we want more people to be aware of the assistance we can offer.”
The Wright Hassall HS2 advisory team is completed by Iain Johnston, Vanessa Blane, Jennie Wheildon, John Gregory, Jon Clifford, Keri Harwood, Hannah Carey, Philip Harris, and Eamonn Daly all of whom have a wealth of experience in dealing with the impact of major infrastructure projects on both individuals and businesses. The team is currently dealing with enquiries along the length of the line in both Phase 1 and Phase 2.
A total of 54 kilometres of HS2’s Phase 1 route will travel through Warwickshire. The first trains from London to Birmingham are due to run in 2026.