High Speed 2 (HS2)
High Speed 2 (HS2) is a proposed high-speed railway between London and the Midlands, the North of England,and potentially at a later stage the central belt of Scotland. The project is being developed by High Speed Two Ltd, a company established by the British government. The route would take the form of a "Y", with a trunk from London to Birmingham, and then two spurs, one to Manchester, and the other to Leeds via the East Midlands. It would be built in stages, with the London to Birmingham section being the first stage. There would be no intermediate calling points between London and the West Midlands.
High-speed rail is supported in principle by the three main UK political parties; there is, however, debate about which cities should be served, and on the environmental performance and impact of high-speed rail. There are also deep disagreements among transport professionals and expert commentators as to whether this scheme should be given priority, whether it is affordable, whether its economics add up, and whether its contribution to reducing carbon emissions by the transport sector is as claimed.
If the HS2 plan is approved, construction would begin in 2017 with the first trains planned to be running by 2025. At present, the only high-speed route in Britain is the Channel Tunnel Rail Link.
HS2 PHASE 2 – BIRMINGHAM TO LEEDS AND MANCHESTER
The Department for Transport has announced the preferred route for Phase 2 of the HS2 project, which links Birmingham with Leeds and Manchester. More detailed information is available on the Government website at:
Detailed maps can be found on the Government website by following the link above. The proposed route will be subject to a public consultation later in 2013.
Property Compensation: Exceptional Hardship Scheme
A consultation has opened on a proposed Exceptional Hardship Scheme which should allow those who have an urgent need to sell their property, but find themselves unable to do so because of the HS2 Phase 2 announcement, to have their home, small business premises or agricultural holding bought by the Government. It is currently expected that the Scheme would run until the end of 2016. If the pattern of Phase 1 is followed, it will then be replaced by a series of property compensation schemes for those closest to and further away from the proposed line of the railway – three different options are currently proposed for properties in Phase 1.
The consultation document states that the scheme will apply to owner-occupiers of residential, small commercial (rateable value < £34,500) or agricultural property, plus mortgagees or personal representatives of a deceased person who would have qualified at the date of death. They will need to show that they have tried and failed to sell their property and that the main reason for failure to sell was HS2 Phase 2. Applicants would also have to demonstrate “exceptional hardship” – the consultation document puts it as follows:
“Applicants should be able to demonstrate that they have a pressing need to sell (not simply to move from) their property within the proposed lifetime of the scheme, and that they would suffer exceptional hardship if they had to wait until such time as the longer term package of compensation and blight measures are available.”
No definition of “exceptional” is given and experience of a similar scheme for the first phase of HS2 showed that it was very difficult for property owners to meet the criteria. Documentary evidence is expected in support of an application. Further detail on the proposed scheme and the consultation is available on the Exceptional Hardship Scheme consultation website.