The Butcher & Barlow HS2 Advisory Team
At Butcher & Barlow Solicitors, we have a team of lawyers who have specialist knowledge of HS2 and are able to provide advice to clients affected by the high speed line.
We have provided answers to the most common initial queries below but as stated at the end of the article this is only a brief overview and you should get in touch to discuss any of the information provided in more specific detail.
What is HS2?
HS2 is the proposed high speed railway link from London Euston through to Leeds and Manchester. (Did you know that HS1 is the Channel Tunnel rail link between London and the end of the Channel Tunnel?)
What is the route of HS2?
The HS2 project is broken down into three stages:
Phase 1: London and the West Midlands
Phase 2a: West Midlands and Crewe
Phase 2b: Crewe and Manchester and West Midland and Leeds
The proposed route for Phase 2a and 2b has not yet been approved by Parliament.
Is my property on the proposed route?
To check how close the route of HS2 is to your home or business, you can make a search here: https://www.hs2.org.uk/where/
My property is on or near the proposed route. What can I do?
HS2 will have major consequences for homes and business that are on or close to the route, whether as a result of the line itself or the construction works and resultant noise pollution
There are a number of statutory compensation schemes which are available depending upon the location of the property, particularly the proximity to the railway line when it is running on the surface as opposed to in a tunnel. Some schemes will not be available until Phase 2 has been given Royal Assent.
My property falls within a Safeguarding Zone. What does this mean?
Safeguarding is a planning tool to help the Government and HS2 Ltd (the company responsible for the development and delivery of the train line) protect the land that may be needed to build and operate the railway.
Importantly for the public, the issuing of Safeguarding Directions triggers Statutory Blight. This means that if you own property in a safeguarded area you may be eligible to serve a Blight Notice.
What is a Blight Notice?
Blight is the reduction in value to your home by virtue of the threat of Compulsory Purchase. By serving a notice in the prescribed form, and subject to meeting certain criteria, you can require the Government to buy your property on CPO terms. An Express Purchase Scheme is in operation for properties within surface safeguarding zones which makes it easier for owner-occupiers to make a successful blight claim.
I am not in the safeguarded zone, need to sell my property and can not because of the proximity to the line. What can I do?
You may, subject to criteria, be able to sell your property to the government through the Need to Sell Scheme. If you need to sell but can not because of the announcement of the route, provided you have a ‘compelling reason’ this option may be open to you. Compelling reasons include unemployment, relocation for a new job or ill health. Each case is judged on its own merits and this is only available if you are not eligible for any other schemes.
You may also fall within the Rural Support Zone or Homeowner Payment Zone and have further option available to you.
What is a Rural Support Zone?
If you outside of the safeguarding zone but within 120m from the mid point of the line, and live in a rural area, you will fall within the Rural Support Zone (RSZ).
There are two discretionary compensation schemes available and will remain open until one year after the railway is opened for public use. The schemes are subject to compliance with certain criteria.
If you want to sell your property, you can ask the Government to buy the property for 100% of the unblighted market value under the Voluntary Purchase Scheme.
Alternatively, if you want to remain in the property you may receive a Cash Offer. This is a lump sum payment of between £30,000 and £100,000.
The Need To Sell scheme also applies.
What is a Homeowners Payment Zone?
The Homeowners Payment (HOP) Zone are three 60 meter wide bands which start at the outer board of the RSZ and runs to 300m from the centre line of the railway. They apply to rural areas where the railway is not in a tunnelled section.
Under the HOP scheme you may be eligible for a cash payments of between £7,500 and £22,500 depending on which band you are in and provided certain criteria are met.
At present, only properties within the HOP zone for Phase 1 can apply for the cash payment.
The Need To Sell scheme also applies.
If I sell my property to the Government, do I have to move out immediately?
No – you can apply to rent it back and continue living in it under the Rent Back scheme. You must indicate that you may want to do this at the time of negotiating the sale. As with all schemes, criteria applies.
Do I need professional advice to apply for compensation under any of these schemes?
The information above is only a basic overview of options available and although the application process for the schemes have been designed to be straightforward, you may wish to seek advice from a Surveyor to both assess the value of your property and assess which option is best for you. Some of the schemes overlap or provide you with different compensatory options. Butcher & Barlow work with a number of surveyors and will be able to recommend one to you.
Once your application has been accepted, you will need to instruct a solicitor to deal with the legal formalities. In most cases, your legal fees are covered to some extent.
Butcher & Barlow are able to assist with the application proceed but please note that these costs are not recoverable.
To discuss any aspect of HS2 compensation, please get in touch with our team of HS2 specialists. Our HS2 advisory team is made up or contentious and non-contentious lawyers and covers both Cheshire and Lancashire.