PROPERTY CONSULTANCY KNIGHT Frank has warned that some property owners likely to be affected by the proposed high-speed rail link (HS2) linking London and Birmingham will have to wait until 2026 to seek compensation, and urged all affected property-owners to seek early advice.
Under the proposals approved by Transport Minister Justine Greening today (10 January), 400 homes will be demolished, 250 farms split and over 800 homes (excluding the Greater London area) affected in some way. Those who will lose land as a result of HS2 will have to wait until 2015 or 2016 to make a claim, while other affected property owners will have to wait until HS2 has been running at least a year to make a claim, meaning that on current plans, they will not be able to seek compensation until 2026.
Despite this, ‘the worst thing you can do is put your head in the sand and hope that it will be OK in the end,’ says James Del Mar, Head of Knight Frank’s HS2 team, set up to advise those affected by HS2. ‘Those close by the proposed route need to ensure that they are occupying their property in the best way, that it is in the best possible shape to attract compensation, and that they find out whether there are any ways to mitigate against the construction work or the later use of HS2,’ he adds.
Professional advice is essential because at present there are around 22 methods of seeking financial redress for HS2 and the best method of seeking compensation varies greatly according to individual circumstance, Del Mar explains. The cost of the professional advice will be included in any compensation, but property owners will have to wait until 2015/16 or, in some cases until 2026, to be reimbursed.
Many property owners have already been affected by the HS2 proposal, with those living close to proposed HS2 routes finding themselves unable to sell their properties without a considerable mark-down.
‘For the last two years, property owners have found they aren’t able to sell at anything close to value. So either they have to postpone selling, or they have to carry the loss and accept they won’t be entitled to compensation either’ Del Mar says.
While the situation for property-owners following today’s announcement is ‘not perfect, it is better to have some certainty rather than simply a threat,’ Del Mar says.
The proposed HS2 link will still have to pass through Parliament – but as it has cross-party support it is unlikely to be rejected. It may also face a legal challenge, and while this could address the amount of time property-owners have to wait to gain compensation, it could equally delay resolution further.
More detailed advice for property owners is available through Knight Frank’s website.