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HS2 Update: Compensation claims now an option as route is Safeguarded

HS2 Update: Compensation claims now an option as route is Safeguarded

Our friends at Knight Frank have shared an update on HS2: affected residential and commercial property owners can now claim compensation in light of the route being safeguarded. Many of the property owners affected by HS2 can now make their first compensation claims after the majority* of the London-to-Birmingham leg of the controversial high-speed rail link was “Safeguarded” earlier today (9 July 2013).

Safeguarding is a significant process in the development of HS2 and takes the controversial project off the drawing board and a step closer to reality. In planning terms, Safeguarding protects the route – typically 60 metres either side – from any development that could adversely affect its construction. From the perspective of affected property owners, it is also the trigger point for Statutory Blight claims. These are available to the owner-occupiers of homes that fall within or partly within the safeguarded zone and will need to be acquired by the government for the construction or the use of the railway.

The process is also available to owner-occupiers of commercial properties with an annual rateable value of up to £34,800 and owner occupiers of agricultural units (these must include a dwelling) wholly or partly within the safeguarding zone. Where a claim is successful, the government will buy the property for its un-blighted value plus a home-loss payment of 10% of its value (up to £47,000) and reasonable moving costs. Statutory Blight claims must be made for a property in its entirety, even if only a portion will be required for the construction of HS2.

Compensation is available if the government decides to acquire only part of a property and the portion retained by the owner falls in value due to what is known as severance or injurious affection. To make a claim under the current rules, property owners will have to prove that they have made reasonable efforts to sell their home or business. The government, however, says it is planning to consult on this requirement and hopes to have it removed by early 2014. Property owners do not have to make a Statutory Blight claim, but can instead wait for the government to issue a Compulsory Purchase Order and negotiate at that point. However, these will not be issued until the HS2 Hybrid Bill receives royal assent, which is likely to be in 2015. James Del Mar, Head of Knight Frank’s HS2 team, says today’s Safeguarding announcement could help some of those affected to draw a line under the issue. “It has been a very stressful time for those who have had to live in the shadow of HS2 for the past three years. While a Statutory Blight claim will never make up for the loss of their homes, it will, at least, allow them to move on and try and put this behind them.”

Both Statutory Blight and Compulsory Purchase are complex areas of law, but the government will pay the professional fees of those affected. “People need not worry about taking the best advice possible,” adds James. “With some claims likely to be worth many millions of pounds, it is absolutely vital that property owners are well advised and thoroughly prepared when making any claims.”

*The sections of the HS2 route through Bromford and Ealing in London have not yet been safeguarded, pending a decision on whether there should be bored tunnels in these locations.

Find out if your property falls within the safeguarding zone

For more information on HS2 claims and compensation please contact our real estate dispute resolution team on 08456 381381 or propertydisputes@ibblaw.co.uk.