HS2 fight goes on say council chiefs

Council chiefs have vowed to keep fighting the HS2 project after a new compensation scheme for residents was announced.

HS2 Ltd say residents affected by the high speed train proposals will get a ‘fair deal’, and has also announced details of a Residents’ Charter, together with the appointment of an Independent Residents Commissioner to support people living along phase one of the route.

Mark Winnington, Staffordshire County Council’s economy chief, said: “We are opposed to HS2 and the county council has been committed from the outset to fighting the cause for families and businesses likely to be affected by the proposed scheme.

“The impact of the scheme on lives and livelihoods cannot be underestimated and that’s why, as well as mitigating the effect of the scheme, we want to see proper and timely compensation for all those affected.

“While we certainly welcome any measures which improve the offering to Staffordshire residents, the Government has to factor in to issues such as a flourishing housing market to ensure people receive compensation at a level which truly reflects the impact and possible upheaval.”

Under the measures people living within 60 metres of the route would receive the full market value of their property, plus 10 per cent.

Those up to 120 metres away, who don’t want to move, would be eligible to a payment of 10 per cent of the home’s value. An ‘express purchase’ and ‘rent back’ option are also being looked at.

The changes to compensation packages are still to be consulted on but are expected to come in from 2015. Ministers are also considering relaxing the rules on buying up homes of those living more than 300 metres from the London to Birmingham route.

HS2 Ltd say a new charter will ensure: property packages and other measures will be communicated clearly; all communication will use plain non-technical language and individuals will be offered a single named case officer with direct contact detail.

Mr Winnington added: “Many families have found the whole compensation process extremely difficult to navigate their way through and I am pleased that HS2 has recognised this and have pledged to cut down on jargon and give everyone a named officer to deal directly with.”

If approved, phase one of HS2 will run from London to the West Midlands, with the second phase going on to Manchester and Leeds – in total cutting through 45 miles of Staffordshire countryside.

Phase two of HS2 goes through Stafford and surrounding villages, including the village of Marston.

In total, 27 wildlife sites will be directly affected as part of the rail plans.