Express purchase scheme, rent-back option and exceptional hardship scheme are included in new package
The government published on 9 April a new compensation and assistance package for property owners close to the route of HS2 between London and the West Midlands.
Some elements of the improved package are available right away, with others following a further short consultation later this year.
An express purchase scheme is being launched for owner-occupiers of properties closest to the line, in the ‘surface safeguarded area’ (generally within 60 metres from the proposed line). The government says it could buy properties at the full unblighted market value, plus 10% (up to £47,000) and reasonable moving expenses, including stamp duty. ‘The scheme is designed to be quick, clear and as straightforward as possible to make it easier for owner-occupiers to sell their property to the government, if they wish to do so’, says the Department for Transport.
A ‘rent-back’ option means that those people who want to sell their properties (under any of the schemes being announced) but carry-on living where they are, may be able to do so.
The exceptional hardship scheme will also continue to be available for those who have an urgent need to sell their home but are unable to do so because of HS2. The government has already bought 114 properties at a cost of around £67 million from owner-occupiers living near the route. This is under the discretionary exceptional hardship scheme for people with a pressing need to sell.
Following the further short consultation, the government also intends to introduce a voluntary purchase scheme by the end of this year, for owner occupiers in rural areas outside the safeguarded area and up to 120 metres from the line. Eligible owner-occupiers would be able to apply to sell their property for its full unblighted market value.
Alternatively, if they do not want to move, they can await the outcome of the further consultation on a cash payment of 10% of the value of their home (from a proposed minimum of £30,000 to a maximum of £100,000).
Following the further consultation, the government also intends to introduce a ‘need to sell’ scheme and consider applications to buy properties at full unblighted market value from owner-occupiers who have a compelling need to sell, such as job relocation or ill health, but who are unable to do so because of plans to build HS2. This scheme does not have a boundary. This would replace the exceptional hardship scheme.
The government will also consult on a homeowner payment scheme which would entitle owner-occupiers to a cash payment if they live between 120 metres and 300 metres from the line in rural areas. The payments could be from £7,500 to £22,500, depending on how close the route is to the property. This would come into effect following Parliamentary approval of the HS2 route between London and the Midlands.