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12th February 2020

Full steam ahead on HS2 - Boris Johnson backs the proposal in full

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The Prime Minster, Boris Johnson, has today confirmed the Government’s backing of the HS2 scheme in full. The announcement comes following his consideration of the government-commissioned Oakervee report into the future of the HS2 scheme. The HS2 scheme had come under heavy criticism due to the spiralling costs having originally been budgeted at £56bn but now projected in the Oakervee report to cost more than £100bn. In response to these criticisms the Prime Minister further announced that the he would appoint a full-time minister to oversee the project as well as implementing measures to restore discipline to the programme.

What is the HS2 Scheme?

HS2 is a high-speed rail link with the first phase of the route traveling between London Euston and Birmingham. The statutory hybrid bill to authorise Phase 1 was granted royal assent in February 2017. The Prime Minister hoped in his announcement today that this phase would be completed and trains would be running by the end of 2029.

The second phase of the route has been split into two and the hybrid bill to deliver Phase 2a, between the Birmingham and Crewe, was introduced to Parliament in 2017. The bill received its second reading in the House of Lords on 9th September 2019. A date for the committee phase of the bill has yet to be announced.

Phase 2b part of the route forms a Y shape, split into an eastern and a western leg. The western leg would connect to the high-speed lines at Crewe and run through to Manchester. The eastern leg would connect to high speed lines in the West Midlands (with construction of the HS2 East Midlands Hub station at Toton) and run through to Leeds. Services would also travel onwards to places like Glasgow, Liverpool, Preston and Wigan. This phase of the scheme is still at the consultation stage with an anticipated completion of 2035-2040.

What does it mean for landowners?

It is advisable that landowners check the route of HS2 in relation to their property. The current route can be found on the HS2 website. If your property is within a specified area of the route there may be statutory or discretionary compensation rights available to you now. These specified areas include:

  • Safeguarded Areas – the Government issued a statutory direction to local planning authorities protecting the corridor of the HS2 route from adverse development. This is known as the safeguarded area. The direction relevant to Phase 2b was last revised on 6th June 2019. This restraint on development may affect property values in the safeguarded area.

  • A landowner in the safeguarded area may be entitled to serve a statutory blight notice on HS2 Ltd requiring the purchase of the property at the un-blighted open market value and associated fees and expenses (with a discretionary rent-back option). There is a statutory right of appeal to the Upper Tribunal.

  • Rural Support Zones - the Government provides two non-statutory options for landowners in these areas: (a) cash offer scheme; or (b) voluntary purchase scheme. Acceptance of either option will not affect your statutory rights for adverse physical factors upon the opening of the route (eg. noise) or injurious affection (ie. depreciation of retained land following part compulsory purchase). There is no statutory right of appeal.

  • Outside these areas – the Government has a non-statutory ‘Need to Sell Scheme’ for properties outside the above areas provided you have ‘compelling reason’ to sell but can’t as a direct result of the announcement of the HS2 route. Each application is judged on its merits with no statutory right of appeal.

If you are affected by HS2 and require assistance or advice as to your rights then the Planning and Environment Team at Hewitsons LLP will be able to assist.