Graeme Paton, Transport Correspondent
September 4 2017, 12:01am,
Britain’s new high-speed railway has been accused of causing
misery for hundreds of households by rejecting almost half of
applications to sell homes near the line.
Figures published by HS2 show that 151 of 317 requests made to
the end of July under its “need to sell” scheme, which are often
submitted for health reasons, had been turned down.
This amounted to 48 per cent of applications with another 101
decisions still to be made.
The rejections were
made under rules
that replaced a
previous scheme in
November last year.
Under the new
with a “compelling”
reason to sell, such
as ill health or a new
job, but who cannot
do so because of
HS2, can apply to
sell their home. The
required households to prove “exceptional hardship”.
The company has admitted that the previous restrictions were too
stringent, resulting in 65 per cent of applications being rejected.
In 2015 a House of Commons committee said that the
arrangements were “far too arduous, exacting and off-putting”. A
House of Lords report last year said that many people affected by
HS2 doubted the fairness of the restrictions. It added that “they
tended to describe the scheme as over-complicated, bureaucratic
Joe Rukin, spokesman for the Stop HS2 campaign, said: “It has
been clear from the outset that HS2 Ltd has not been interested in
fairly compensating the people whose lives have been turned
upside down by this project, and the statistics bear this out.
“Not wanting to live on a building site for ten years isn’t a good
enough reason for wanting to sell your house as far as HS2 Ltd are
concerned; people have to demonstrate they ‘need’ to sell their
house, and far too many are failing the test which HS2 Ltd have
set.” Work on the £56 billion, 250mph line began recently. The
first phase will take it from London to Birmingham, opening in
2026. The second phase is due to reach Leeds and Manchester in
There are a number of compensation schemes for residents who
want to sell their homes along the route. These include the
“express purchase scheme”, which pays those within 60m of the
line 110 per cent of their property’s unblighted market value, plus
The “need to sell” scheme is for anyone who wants to sell,
irrespective of geography, but cannot do so because of HS2. They
must prove “compelling reasons”, including unemployment,
relocation for a new job or ill health. They also must prove that
they have attempted to sell the property without success for at
least three months.
A spokesman for HS2 said that rules for the schemes were set by
the Department for Transport and applications were considered by
an independent panel before being signed off by the transport
He said: “In order to ensure value for the taxpayer, applicants need
to show that they have a compelling need to sell their property.
Applicants are given support and advice throughout the process
and many reapply as their circumstances change or reapply with
more supporting evidence.