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Written by rosalind renshaw

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."


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    Mr P of TW

    an ideal world - sadly in the real it cannot happen. If left to the state, energy and renewable energy would suffer mass under investment as many would be calling for funds to be diverted to, say, NHS etc. Energy provision can only develop at the rate needed if there is a commercial benefit. If it was upto the Government, they would cut funding and investment as part of their austerity measures.

    On BBC Question Times last night, labour, lib dems and SNP all welcomed HS2 despite such a gulf in political ideals.

    • 13 January 2012 10:05 AM
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    London Agent wrote: 'Energy is a privatised business'. Yes, but it shouldn't be. Everyone in the country needs energy (and water) - everyone. Which is why energy and water are just about the only things the state should provide. Whether they provide it via private companies is neither here nor there because, inevitably, when (for example) the construction of nuclear power stations go over budget, the state (that's us) picks up the tab one way or the other.

    • 13 January 2012 08:08 AM
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    Energy is a privatised business and R&D funded by utility charges and multinationals such as Exxon, BP all determined to cash in on solving the energy crisis - BP alone spends over £1billion a year on green energy. The Government likes wind farms.

    Government is not going to get much back by investing - instead they do so through targets and tax breaks. Cleaner energy is a commercial enterprise.

    I absolutely agree about the Channel Tunnel, however failure is a lesson learned and besides, it was a JV with the French. It was also a very different type of project and with 31 miles of undersea tunnel a feat never achieved before or since - this was the cause of going over budget. It is now a commercial success. In fact it posted its first profits within 5 years

    Nevertheless over 15 million tonnes of freight was removed from the roads last year alone - cleaner and greener.

    Anyway - its a moot point as HS2 is going ahead regardless.

    • 12 January 2012 16:15 PM
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    Channel Tunnel was 80% over budget.

    • 12 January 2012 15:25 PM
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    Lettings Guru said - 'Many criticised the Channel Tunnel yet now it is profitable and much will have been learned from that project in terms of delivery on time and on budget.

    I don't know how you can say that with a straight face. How far over budget was it. Seem to remember massive debt writedowns and the investors got stuffed. The record of delivery of projects of the size of HS2 in terms of budget is laughable. It will no doubt end up costing 50 billion.

    And you said: 'I sincerely believe that the investment is a good thing for the country but believe the immediate focus should be on those people affected by HS2. That is only fair.'

    I sincerely believe that the 'investment' is ludicrous. I'm all for infrastructure investment - and think the benefits the train line will bring are pretty intangible.

    I'd like to see the 32 billion spent on energy generation. In years to come I couldn't give a twopenny's about how quickly I can get between Birmingham and London - but sensibly priced energy to heat and light my home I can get excited about.

    • 12 January 2012 15:23 PM
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    Puzzled of Tunbridge Wells - respectfully, you are focussing on 'spending' which is a misleading term. The money 'spent' doesn't just vanish. Its redistributed to industry and new jobs and much will be recollected through taxes - an investment of this size creates much more than just a railway - it creates a whole new mini economy. Much of the failing of UK plc has been the lack of investment. Many criticised the Channel Tunnel yet now it is profitable and much will have been learned from that project in terms of delivery on time and on budget.

    I sincerely believe that the investment is a good thing for the country but believe the immediate focus should be on those people affected by HS2. That is only fair.

    • 12 January 2012 10:47 AM
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    To Baracus - what you say is, in my opinion, just wrong.

    Let's pretend the years have gone by and you can now get from Manchester to London in 2 hours instead of 4 hours.

    You are a business owner - where will you locate your business? Hmmm. Well depends what you do and who your customers are.

    I'm a manufacturer and I export a lot of my goods - I want to be in an area where factories are cheap, skilled labour is available and I'm not far from a port.

    I'm a manufacturer and I sell my goods at home - I want to be in the West Midlands - equidistant from all markets (which is where the hubs of all the major distribution companies already are)

    I'm in a service industry and I don't need to be near my customers - I want cheap office space and a well educated workforce.

    I'm in a service industry and I do need to be near my customers. I have branches throughout the UK in the major urban areas.

    Etc. etc., etc. The only thing I really, really don't give a monkey's about - is how long it takes me to get to London on a train. If I make the journey, it will only be a few times a year and an investment of 32 billion to save me 6 hours a year really isn't worth it.

    That money could be much better spent in other ways.

    • 12 January 2012 08:32 AM
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    If Geoffrey Palmer says it's a daft idea I'm with him.

    What will a rail ticket cost on this bullet train. At the moment a first-class open single is £79 if not purchased in advance, so don't be surprised if it will be double that at least to leave your intestines still in Brum when the rest of you has passed through Bucks

    • 11 January 2012 23:43 PM
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    @ Lance, True those costs will eat up a lot of the money, but if they decided to move then they would have to pay it anyway, and with it they can possibly get a nicer house. So if they were planning on spending £150k plus costs, they may be able to buy at £180k+ with the extra.

    So, silver lining and all that.

    • 11 January 2012 17:06 PM
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    Thinking back to when the M25 was built, those who were either bought by the Govt or took compensation all did rather well. I can't imagine this situation will be any different. That said, I wouldn't like to be in their situation.

    • 11 January 2012 16:41 PM
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    For "Puzzled of Tunbridge Wells"...the reason HS2 will benefit others in parts of the country less prosperous than London and the South East is because industry and investment will start to locate in these areas that they hadn't normally considered.

    That in turn will generate jobs and will boost the local economy. In the long-term there will be a re-balance of regional inequalities and the the gap between the prosperous south-eastern corner and the rest of the country will narrow. That has surely got to be a good thing for all of us.

    And there is a model for this rather than just poppycock intellectual thinking. It's exactly what has happened in Germany. Industry over there no longer just considers Munich or Stuttgart as the only places to be based. Because of the better rail network and shorter journey times they base themselves in lots of provisional towns that they wouldn't have dreamed of doing previously.

    So in summary it will be a massive boost the Midlands and later on a massive boost for the North West.

    As I say, I live along the route and I'm a Londoner so I have no vested interest in HS2 at all but I can see the economic benefits of it despite the serious and not to be under-estimated disruption to thousands of people along the route.

    However, the greater and wider benefits of building it has got to be the priority in my opinion.

    • 11 January 2012 13:32 PM
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    Those people commenting in their ivory towers that the M6 toll road is rarely used clearly never go near the motorway. Not only does it cut rush hour by at least 30 mins sometimes up to an hour but it also relieves the main M6 which used to be a nightmare.

    The same is true of the railway's, anyone who used them regularly knows how over capacity they are, ignoring all speed arguments of which there are huge compelling reasons alone the fact that trains are at bursting point is the reason this had to happen.

    This railway has the ability to double capacity including freight freeing up the roads of unnecessary traffic, its quite clear why this country has such an appalling network with the horrific self serving Nimby attitude so prevalent.

    And its not a few minutes it has the potential to make commuting to London a real possibility from other parts of the country lessening the demand on housing down South.

    I for one am completely for it.

    • 11 January 2012 13:11 PM
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    A project of this size creates jobs, investment and growth. Our economy is screwed for many reasons - we don't manufacture and we have under invested are 2 examples.

    HS2 is a terrible thing for those households affected - it was the same for the Eurostar residents - but imagine not having it. Fact is, the decision is made and the focus should be on swiftly and fairly compensated those affected as the first priority. As for Mr Bramwell's vulture culture, I am appalled.

    I really feel for those who have to sell - many will fall into negative equity and these people MUST be helped.

    As regards the need for HS2, I will let others debate it. However, I will comment that we need to compete with Europe and ask a German / Frenchman about our trains compared to theirs - its embarrassing.

    • 11 January 2012 12:27 PM
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    NIMBYism is getting out of control in this country and we need to focus on the greater good.

    Having previously lived next to the East Coast Main Line for two years, I can catagorically say that you barely notice express trains - by the time you do notice them, they are gone again. I'd much rather live next to a high speed railway line than a motorway.

    Roll on HS2 (and 3 and 4!)

    • 11 January 2012 12:19 PM
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    BA: 'So far from benefitting the rich it will actually help others in less properous parts of the country by improving their micro economy.'


    • 11 January 2012 11:00 AM
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    For "Ace"....Unfortunately, you've completely misunderstood my post. Please re-read it and you'll see that HS2 will draw the economy of London and the South East up into other areas of the country.

    I repeat, London and the South East currently generates 35% of GDV and the rest of the country 65%, but there are only 9 million people in London and the South East compared to 51 million people everywhere else.

    So far from benefitting the rich it will actually help others in less properous parts of the country by improving their micro economy.

    • 11 January 2012 10:56 AM
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    I hate to say it but I agree with Mr BA, this is going to be a great benefit to our infrastructure and our economy at a time when everything is slowing down. The same has come off in Europe without many issues.

    Whilst I understand that some people will not want the thing in their back gardens, the Governments plans for compulsory purchase orders, plus the extra on top, at least means that you will be able to sell your property for a good value instead of running the risk of placing it on the market and just having it sat there before you recieve a speculative offer of well below the market value and decide to take it due to the lack of interest. (plus btw, won't property interest go up in these areas as more people look to commute?)

    Plus just to say before anyone shouts, I have by no means had enough time to look at both sides of the arguement or everyones point of view and am probably missing some large part of what people are complaining about, so I invite anyone to please comment on any of my views if I am way off base.

    Cheers :-)

    • 11 January 2012 10:45 AM
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    what you are saying is it to benefit the rich and everybody else can get stuffed.

    Thank-you very much

    • 11 January 2012 10:34 AM
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    If you just rented you could move, so your fault for buying, unlucky mugs, we do not care a jot about your house price unless it is crashing. Suffer while we laugh.

    • 11 January 2012 10:07 AM
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    I find the comment by Trevor Kent that HS2 isn't needed and that the majority of people won't use HS2 on cost or safety grounds to be ill-informed.

    High Speed rail is used extensively in Europe without problems and has proven to successfully draw the economy from one corner of the countries into other areas - which is drastically needed in the UK.

    Currently, London and the South East has a population of about 9 million and generates 35% of total GDV which is nearly 4% per million people. The rest of the country has a population of about 51 million and contributes 65% of total GDV which is only 1.25% per million - so the figures speak for themselves.

    It's not a railway for local people, its a railway for business people who need to get around the country quickly and therefore it will be used extensively as it is in Europe.

    I live along the route and of course, as much as I don't want it in my back yard I'm afraid it's will be as essential as the motorways network which we all loathe but can't live without if the economy is to continue to grow.

    Conversely to local opposition, most of the top business owners in the country support HS2 because they see the bigger picture. Indeed, the project has cross-party support and is backed by some of the country's most senior economists and business leaders.

    • 11 January 2012 09:33 AM
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    I am more baffled than usual by this particular issue. More and more people work from home these days. I know companies where a significant percentage (up to half) work two or three days a week from home.

    Birmingham is only 100 miles from London. At the moment it takes an hour and a half on the train. Wow! 16 billion to make it 45 minutes. Have we all taken leave of our senses? I'm all for the idea of spreading the wealth (and the people) from London/South East to the rest of the country. But I can't see how providing fast links into London will do this. All that has happened so far is that whenever a high speed train service comes into being, commuters travel further into London. Already people commute from places like Bristol, Peterborough - even York. So, high speed links just suck more commuters into the South East.

    Surely the movement of goods is more important than people? London is full of service industries - we need to get them distributed around the country because half the people that work in them already work from home.

    • 11 January 2012 09:26 AM
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    I agree these improvements to infrastructure are hard for the people who live in their path, but imagine the local pockets of resistance to the first railways, the canals, the M1 and M25.

    Surely we must think of the greater benefit for many future generations and give generous compensation for those paying the price of inconvenience and disruption. £47,000 on top of the price of a house sounds really mean, the cost of stamp duty, removals and fixtures like curtains and carpets, maybe a new kitchen on a replacement house will soon gobble up more than £47k leaving no compensation at all.

    Maybe those threatened by blight should take a look at the deals paid out to make way for the M1 to see if the Government was more generous then and push for much more than £47,000.

    I served a blight notice on a flat to make way for The Galleria and tunnel for the A1(M) at Hatfield so I know the Government will pay out the fair market price, but the challenge is finding someone who will sell those people a house at the current market value; most vendors want more don't they?

    Good luck to all afflicted by the new line.

    • 11 January 2012 09:20 AM
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    Heartbreaking for families and individuals that cannot sell their property or are faced with a compulsory purchase order on a family home but as an outsider looking in I cannnot believe you will be able to get from Birmingham to London in 45 minutes. Super! House prices in the Midlands will surely, once this link is in rise and people will have a choice of living much further out of the home counties which is so expensive. I'd be delighted to be living in Birmingham and only have a 45 minute commute into London. From Wokingham to High Wycombe takes about 90 minutes in the car and you can't get any work done when driving. The UK is over populated, the M25 is a nightmare, anything that links up other parts of the UK fast, into London is a good thing in my books.

    • 11 January 2012 09:17 AM
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    HS2 is a complete waste of time and money. It will be like the M6 Toll, very few will pay the extra costs involved and most of the time it simply will not be used. In the meantime it will cause more uncertainity and stagnation in the property market either side of the route.

    There are many more worthwhile projects that tax payers money could be spent on

    • 11 January 2012 09:10 AM
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    @Jonathan Bramwell

    Your idiotic comment proves that you have no concept of what life is all about.

    • 11 January 2012 08:49 AM
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