What are your views on the proposed advance purchase process? I do not think the Department for Transport’s advance purchase proposals are adequate. All owners should be entitled the right to have their property purchased under the scheme. As it stands, the current proposals exclude buy-to-let landlords and owners of second properties. A landlord or a second home owner purchased their property in the same way as any other property owner; they should therefore be compensated in the same way. The home loss payment currently on offer is capped at 10% of the property’s value or £47,000 – whichever is the lesser amount. In rural areas – especially in my constituency – a great many properties affected by the train line have a value greater than £470,000 and the Government’s proposed offer is simply inadequate. The home loss payment should not be capped. The Country Land and Business Association recommends a 30% home loss payment and I feel this is a more satisfactory level of compensation for people whose livelihoods are being turned upside down in the name of a project which is claimed to be in the national interest. 2. What are your views on the proposed voluntary purchase zone for rural areas? I do not think the Department for Transport’s voluntary purchase zone proposals are adequate. Only properties within up to 120m from the line are eligible for the voluntary purchase package. This is an arbitrary boundary which totally ignores the disparate topography of the rural areas on which HS2 will impact. Eligibility should not be based on an arbitrary distance but on market loss in value and should include all properties (urban and rural, as well as those above tunnels). These proposals simply ignore blighted properties which do not sit within 120m of the line (of which there are a great many in my constituency). When Philip Hammond visited my constituency in 2010, he made a pledge that the Government would compensate all significant losses; the DfT’s proposals do not fulfil that pledge. If homeowners are eligible for their properties to be purchased under the voluntary purchase arrangements, they are obviously doing so because they are significantly blighted by HS2. To that end, the Government should also offer these property owners a home-loss payment and agree to compensate for associated moving costs.

Fundamentally, there is no indication that the Voluntary Purchase Zone arrangements justly reflect the extent of blight. It is reasonable to assume that equal or, indeed, greater losses will be suffered by those outside of the zone.

3. What are your views on the proposals for a sale and rent back scheme? I do not think the Department for Transport’s sale and rent back scheme proposals are adequate. In its current state, the proposed eligibility criteria for this scheme are far too narrow. The sale and rent back scheme should not exclude small businesses, second homes or leased properties. Furthermore, I see no reason why any property which falls within the defined Voluntary Purchase Zone should be excluded from the sale and rent back scheme. 4. What are your views on the proposed approach to the application of the hardship criterion for the long term hardship scheme for Phase 1? I wholly disagree with the hardship criterion for the long-term hardship scheme. The Department for Transport claims that owner-occupiers whose properties are “substantially adversely affected by the construction/operation of HS2” are eligible to make a claim under the Long Term Hardship Scheme. It would be more apt, therefore, to rename the scheme the “Long Term Blighted Scheme”. In order to qualify for this scheme, owner-occupiers must demonstrate ‘hardship’ including, inter alia, financial hardship, need to relocate, medical reasons, upsizing and downsizing. The eligibility criteria prevent the vast majority of those blighted by HS2 from benefitting from the scheme: people who want to move, but are unable to do so because of HS2. Blight, in itself, should be sufficient grounds for compensation. As well as confirming to my constituents in 2011 that the Government would compensate all significant losses, Secretary of State Hammond also stated in the House of Commons on 20 December 2010: “...[that] where a project which is in the national interest imposes significant financial loss on individuals, I believe it is right and proper that they should be compensated fairly for that loss1”. All properties close to the line in my constituency were immediately blighted when the previous Government first proposed HS2 in 2010. With one unique exception, every property sold in the prestigious village of Turweston since the announcement in 2010 has been to the Government under the Exceptional Hardship Scheme. Considering that at least one of the properties considered suitable for purchase under the EHS falls quite some distance from the arbitrary 120m Voluntary Purchase Zone, blight clearly extends much further than the Government is prepared to recognise with its current proposals. For those living outside of the 120m Voluntary Purchase Zone who fail to convince the Long Term Hardship panel of their need to sell, homeowners will not be able to sell their property to the Government until at least 2027 (assuming construction is on schedule) through the statutory provisions included in the Land Compensation Act. The Government should publish all information it holds on the extent of

Hansard, 20 December 2010, c1201

blight, as well as noise contour maps. Without noise contour maps, fully considering the adequacy of proposals to compensate for blight is simply not possible. The eligibility criteria of the Long Term Hardship Scheme are comparable to those of the Exceptional Hardship Scheme. The success rate of EHS applicants (less than a quarter2) offers residents who fall outside of the Voluntary Purchase Zone yet still blighted very little comfort and leaves me hugely sceptical about how serious the Government takes its guarantee that all property-owners adversely affected by HS2 will be fairly compensated for their loss. Hardship should not feature in the criteria of any scheme devised for property owners blighted by HS2. Blight, in itself, should be sufficient grounds to qualify for compensation. In its current manifestation, the Government’s proposals require applicants to the Long Term Hardship Scheme to prove to a panel that they are “substantially adversely affected by the construction or operation of the railway3”. Eligibility should not be based on whether a property owner is able to convince a panel that they are “adversely affected” and that they are deserving of compensation; instead, compensation should reflect the market-loss in value of the property. Put simply, the Government, by its chosen policy, is devaluing the assets of many of my constituents, i.e. effectively taking money away from them. There is therefore a moral obligation to compensate them fully for that loss. Such compensation should not be means tested so that my constituents are subsidising the HS2 project. Rather, the compensation should be equal to the size of loss. It is also the case that eligibility for compensation under the Long Term Hardship Scheme is conditional on the owner having marketed the property for at least 12 months. Under the current Exceptional Hardship Scheme, a property needs to have been on the market for just 3 months and the Crossrail compensation scheme has similar arrangements. In some rural parts of my constituency affected by HS2, the property market remained – prior to the 2010 announcement – buoyant. To expect property owners in previously popular locations to wait in excess of 12 months to sell a property that would otherwise have sold in a matter of weeks (sometimes days) is quite simply unacceptable. Similarly, a number of these properties carry a substantial value and the Long Term Hardship caveat that property owners are disqualified from the scheme if they have received offers 15% (or less) of the property’s value is totally wrong. The Long Term Hardship Scheme should include second homes, small businesses and buy-to-let properties, as owners of these properties will suffer the same loss in value of their assets as owner occupiers. Offering a Property Bond reduces blight by instilling market confidence. It is by far the most effective solution to the problem of blight and should be adopted by the Government as the primary element of its compensation proposals. Compensation should not be wholly based on the material effects of HS2 such as noise and vibration. Any compensation package needs to recognise and address the impact of High Speed 2 on the market value of a property. 5. What are your views on the Government’s proposals to restore confidence in properties above tunnels? The Government’s proposed package for properties above tunnels fails to compensate for the blight they will experience. While the Government proposes to compensate for damage incurred as a result of tunnelling, the prospect of a tunnel under a property will lead to a loss in value over concerns about, inter alia, noise and vibration.
2 3

http://www.hs2.org.uk/have-your-say/property/exceptional-hardship-scheme High Speed Two Property and Compensation Consultation, p22

6. What are your views on how the Government should work with Local Authorities, Housing Associations and affected tenants to agree a joint strategy to replace any lost social rented housing? Quite simply, if HS2 is responsible for the destruction of social housing, it should be responsible for the replacement of it. In addition, the Government should give an assurance that any tenants disrupted as a result of HS2 will be fairly compensated.