Government must review HS2 compensation scheme in light of recent Woolwich case

Published: 04/02/2013

We are urging the government to review its HS2 compensation scheme after a recent case saw a property owner’s house valued at £0.

97-year-old Elfrida Harper-Tarr is one of many residents affected by the HS2, the proposed high speed London to Birmingham train service. Desperate to sell the property in order to fund her £3,500-a-month care home costs, her Buckinghamshire home was initially valued at £275,000.

However, just a few months later, and the buyer has now been forced to pull out of the purchase after having their mortgage application rejected by The Woolwich who valued The Old Post Office at zero.

HS2 is designed to slash journey times between London, the Midlands and the North. Passengers travelling between the UK’s two largest cities, London and Birmingham could soon do so in less than 50 minutes whilst London to Glasgow travellers could see thirty minutes shaved off their journey.

However the proposed route could not only see around £90m worth of property demolished but also has a significant impact on the remaining value of the surrounding homes and commercial buildings.

Last October the government announced a self described ‘generous’ compensation scheme for affected homeowners which goes beyond statutory requirements. However in the case of Elfrida, it falls massively short.

Founding partner of Goldsmith Williams and Chairman of the Conveyancing Association, Eddie Goldsmith, predicts the Woolwich’s reaction is likely to be the tip of the iceberg and urges the government to review its scheme in light of this latest information:

“While I cannot ever recall a zero valuation on a property in over 25 years’ conveyancing practice, I can appreciate why The Woolwich has made such a dramatic decision. Despite being a substantial building with presumably no title issues, its proximity to the HS2 route renders it inadequate security for a mortgage. The very real risk now is that other lenders will adopt a similar stance.

“This can only increase fears that property blight affecting properties near to HS2 will be much worse than the Government anticipated. The house in question is approximately 460m from the route demonstrating that ‘blight’ is going to affect many more properties than originally expected. It is now up to the government to review its 120m automatic entitlement corridor to provide compensation to all affected homeowners.”

Content correct at time of publication

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