The high-speed rail link which got the go-ahead from the Government yesterday will blight thousands of properties and create years of nightmare trading for estate agents.One agent said yesterday’s announcement had created a crisis.
Others warned that home owners with unsaleable properties will be battling for compensation for years. Many home owners have already reported being unable to sell their properties in areas along the route of the HS2 scheme, which will cut journey times between London and Birmingham by 30 minutes. The second phase will take the route to Manchester and Leeds.
The Government says that out of 55,000 responses to its consultation on the plans, 36,036 (more than 65%) mentioned concerns about property.The Government is still running the voluntary ‘exceptional hardship scheme’ to help home owners who have been struggling to sell their properties because of uncertainty as to the exact route of the line.
The Government will serve compulsory purchase orders on the properties it considers most affected – but not until at least 2015. Home owners can also serve blight notices. The Government will pay open market values, as if unaffected by the HS2 scheme, plus a home loss payment of up to £47,000.
Estate agent Trevor Kent, based in Gerrards Cross, Bucks, said: “We now have a black hole, a corridor of uncertainty, following the announcement on HS2. “This hammer blow has fundamentally affected property owners and occupiers from London to Birmingham within sight, sound or path of the route. “This declaration has created a new territory in our country which I shall call Limbo-land. “It is a land where residential and commercial property values will now, at a stroke, have been thrown into crisis, and for what? A few minutes off a journey at break-neck speeds which the majority already claim they will not take advantage of, either on cost or safety grounds.
”Kent said: “The arrangements for compensation have yet to be defined. The intention is to provide Statutory Blight Provision, but agents have no idea of the extent of the compensation, the qualifying criteria or timeframe. “Most importantly, arrangements for property owners who should qualify for ‘Exceptional Hardship Consideration’ due perhaps to serious illness, or financial crisis, are totally unclear.” Kent is calling for the establishment of an independent body with funds to immediately get to grips with the problems facing property owners who he says will be unable to sell at any price for the next few years, or perhaps ever. Jonathan Bramwell, head of the central region at the Buying Solution, said: “Sadly, many home owners along the route of the line will be faced with years of battling over compensation. On the flip side, it could provide an opportunity for savvy buyers to pick up a good deal.”
The RICS positively welcomed the news. Jeremy Blackburn, head of policy, said: “It has huge potential to contribute to economic growth, as well as lowering carbon emissions and expanding the capacity and speed of the UK’s transport network.”