Ansons Solicitors planning team outline the implications of HS2 for Staffordshire landowners.
On 28th January 2013, the long awaited second phase of HS2 connecting Birmingham with Leeds and Manchester was announced. The planned route, which does not stop as it passes through Staffordshire, is set to plough through swathes of the open countryside.
The route as it passes through Staffordshire can be found at http://highspeedrail.dft.gov.uk/in-your-area
HS2 or High Speed 2 is a proposed new rail line capable of carrying trains of up to 225 mph between Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham and London. The first phase of HS2 between London and Birmingham could be open by 2026 with construction commencing as early as 2017.
The second phase of HS2 linking the London-Birmingham route with Manchester and Leeds would not be operational until at least 2033. Current cost estimates suggest that the whole scheme will cost at least £33 billion.
Normal planning permission from each local planning authority will not be required. Instead Parliament will pass a specific piece of legislation authorising the construction of the route, the proposals of which are currently being debated.
Several legal challenges to the proposed schemes south of Birmingham have also been made. The first hearings began in December 2012 and a decision from the courts on the outcome is expected imminently.
Once the result of the legal challenges is known it is then expected that the preferred route will be ‘safeguarded’, which is the first step in the acquisition process.
HS2 will compulsorily purchase the land required for the railway. The first step in this process is the establishment of a special ‘safeguarded area’ which protects the land forming the line of the route. The draft safeguarding plans can be found at:
Landowners whose land falls wholly or partly within this safeguarded area can ask the Government to purchase the land in advance of compulsory purchase. However this only applies to land that is owned or occupied for residential purposes, small businesses or owner-occupied agricultural units. Furthermore, if a planning application is made which affects land within the safeguarded area then HS2 must be consulted.
Long established laws already exist which govern the compulsory purchase of land and property. The rules governing the assessment of compensation are complex and governed by extensive case law.
In summary the starting position is that the landowner should be paid neither less nor more than his loss. This broadly equates to the market value of the land together with a monetary sum as compensation for disturbance and injurious affection.
It is important to appoint your own solicitor to deal with HS2. A solicitor will be able to guide you through the process, take away the need for you to be in day to day contact with HS2, ensure that compensation is maximised and adequately protect your business. More importantly HS2 will be responsible for your legal costs in any event so there will be no direct cost to you.
The Government propose to introduce a voluntary scheme to allow eligible landowners to sell their land to the Government in advance of the compulsory purchase scheme. The voluntary scheme is expected to extend to 120 metres either side of the proposed line in rural areas but will exclude most urban areas or those areas where the line passes through tunnels.
The voluntary scheme will only be open to owner occupiers or small business owners who may make a request to the Government for their land to be purchased at its un-blighted open market value. No additional compensation for disturbance or injurious affection will be paid.
If land is only partially within the voluntary purchase zone any application for voluntary purchase will only be considered on a case by case basis.
HS2 are currently making contact with landowners along the proposed route to secure access to undertake various surveys and environmental assessments. In exchange for granting access HS2 will make a payment to Landowners of up to £1000. There is also provision for payment to be made through land agents and solicitors appointed by the landowner to represent them.
Ansons LLP has extensive experience in compulsory purchase matters and access agreements and has acted for various landowners along the route of both the West Coast Mainline Trent Valley modernisation project and the M6 Toll Motorway.
For more information contact David Anderton or Neil Faunch in the regulatory and environmental law team at Ansons LLP on 01543 263456 or by email at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org