Residents condemn 'interest free loan' plans for Doncaster estate facing demolitions over HS2

Pete and Sue Douglas at their home on the Shimmer Estate in Mexborough which could be demolished to make way for HS2. Picture Scott Merrylees
Pete and Sue Douglas at their home on the Shimmer Estate in Mexborough which could be demolished to make way for HS2. Picture Scott Merrylees
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Residents and community leaders have condemned plans for a proposed 'relocation loan' for residents on a Doncaster estate which faces demolitions due to HS2.

The plan has been put forward by the Government as a way to help those living on the Shimmer estate in Mexborough to find a comparable home, following concerns that valuations given for their properties are not enough to buy comparable homes locally.

HS2 Fair Deal campaign

HS2 Fair Deal campaign

The loan move was mentioned to residents at the Mexborough Advisory Forum, held to liaise with residents.

Homes on Shimmer face demolition because the proposed route for the Government's planned high speed rail line would go through their estate. A viaduct is proposed to run through the estate, off Doncaster Road. The Free Press is campaigning for fair compensation.

The loan has been described to the forum as 'interest free' and would be up to a maximum of £50,000. It would have to be repaid when the house was sold. But if the house value had gone up, then the borrower would have to pay more back.

For instance, if a resident took out a £25,000 loan on a £175,000 house, representing 12.5 per cent of the house value, they would have to pay the Government 12.5 per cent of the resale value. In this example, if it was sold for £300,000, they would have to the Government back £31,250

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “We recognise that this is a difficult time for Shimmer estate residents, thank them for their patience and want reassure them they will be treated fairly and with compassion.

“The proposed Shimmer Relocation Loan Scheme is designed to provide tailored support to meet the unique challenges of homeowners moving away from the estate. Once the final scheme has been agreed, it will be made available to those Shimmer homeowners who need assistance to help them secure a comparable local home.

“We will continue to work closely with residents, including through the Mexborough Advisory Forum, to get the best outcome for everyone involved, and ensure the development remains a pleasant and secure place to live.”

But the plan has been dismissed by residents and local leaders.

Shimmer resident Pete Douglas said: "I can't see how it is going to be of any benefit to anyone. We feel they got their valuations wrong, and with this, we would still have to pay more to get a comparable house.

"We had two valuations of our house after HS2 was initially proposed, both for the same value. But when Carter Jonas came back for HS2, it was £15,000 less. The loan is just going to increase levels of debt, and if people want to do that, they could get a mortgage. They need to listen to independent valuers."

Another Shimmer resident, Andrew Sproston, rejected the suggestion that the Government offer was 'an interest free loan'. He added: "That does not sound like a loan, it's an equity share in your house. I've not heard anything about it yet."

Doncaster Council's Mexborough ward councillors have also condemned the proposal.

In a joint statement, Sean Gibbons, Bev Chapman and Andy Pickering said: "The loans scheme that has been tabled is not appropriate because it will not help the residents. Residents are not happy about taking a loan from the Government when all they want is a fair valuation of their property."