HS2: A positive or negative link?

Artist's impression of the HS2 high speed rail scheme.
Artist's impression of the HS2 high speed rail scheme.
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By Mohammed Mahroof, consultant with Mark Jenkinson & Sons

In the last few months there has been a great deal of media and social debate following the announcement of the HS2 route.

Inevitably, opinion is divided. Some people are really very excited. Others are more lukewarm to the idea and view this with a great deal of trepidation.

On the face of it, it is an exciting infrastructure project, improving links between us, other cities and London. Economically it has the potential to create not just construction jobs through the build phase, but longer term investment into this country and the regions. If you look at other developed countries such as Japan, France and many others, such infrastructure projects have been around for many years and the benefits are there for all to see. In some of the world’s developing nations, major transport projects are the bedrock not only of connectivity of regions but economic growth.

As with any major infrastructure project, there are people who are less enthusiastic. They have good reason as their property may be affected wholly or in part. If you are one of these communities then this a time of great personal distress, not only because your property is affected, but it affects your community and the way of life you have chosen. It is clear such projects do have a major effect on people’s lives. I have first hand experience of this as my family were affected by a major hydroelectric dam project, with my father coming to this country in the 1950s. Many of his contemporaries recall stories of losing not only land and property, but more so communities built over generations. It can and does have a lasting effect on individuals.

On the other hand it bought opportunities for many people in the form of employment, economic prosperity and an infrastructure that aids industry and commerce. It is a very difficult choice but these decisions are inevitable in order to support developing economies.

In terms of practical issues, you might like to consider the following, although these are not a substitute for taking professional advice.

What should you do if your property is affected?

Firstly, check to what extent it will be affected and if you could be suffering from ‘Blight’ as a result.

Blight basically means you may be unable to sell your property as there would be very few buyers. In those circumstances you may be entitled to serve a Blight Notice asking for the property to be immediately purchased as it is likely to be purchased under a Compulsory Purchase Order.

Blight Notices could be served as early as Spring 2013 and the Exceptional Hardship Scheme Consultation is now underway.

Alternatively you may be included in a Compulsory Purchase Order, which means you will get market value for your property as well as home loss disturbance payments to cover your relocation costs and all your professional fees for your solicitor and chartered surveyor.

A business will be entitled to claim loss of profits, relocation expenses, and, in the worst case scenario, total extinction of the business.

You should employ professional advisers who have experience in Compulsory Purchase.

If we look past the development period of HS2, people are asking how it will affect property values in and around the new rail system.

It is very subjective but any major new infrastructure project anywhere in the world arguably does have a long term benefit. Clearly when you are initially affected it is not immediately apparent but some years in the future the benefits become more apparent.

Also some land and property located close to the new rail system may gain development potential which previously did not exist, therefore, it is important you look at all aspects and take good professional advice whether you are positively or negatively affected.

It is quite clear this debate will continue for many years and there will be many phases that the project goes through which will affect people in different ways.

In the end, history will be the judge.