Staffordshire properties in limbo over HS2 uncertainty
Angry villagers claim uncertainty over the route of the next phase of the HS2 line has caused a property blight across an estimated five-mile radius around their homes.
They vented their frustrations as it emerged the long-awaited announcement on exactly where the line will run, which had been due this month, has been postponed again.
Residents say the lack of clarity about the route has meant the fall in property prices caused by HS2 has affected a wider area and they claim some householders have lost up to 30 per cent off the market value of their homes.
The proposed Phase 1 and Phase 2 routes will pass 46 miles through Lichfield, Stafford and Newcastle-under-Lyme boroughs. The first phase will see HS2 join up with the West Coast Line in Handsacre, while the second phase to Manchester would carve through countryside stretching from Lichfield to Stone.
Farmer John Sadler, whose home in Handsacre is just 20 yards from the proposed track, said: "The uncertainty about where the route will be means the property blight is not confined to one small stretch but over a wider area.
"This has been going on for two or three years. Prospective buyers either don't want to know or are in a very good bargaining position, even though it may turn out the property will not be as close to the line as feared.
"People have lost tens of thousands of pounds on their properties which they won't be compensated for. These are people who are desperate but won't qualify for exceptional hardship payments because they're moving, for example, to be nearer their families."
Great-grandmother Fran Locker, 80, revealed she had been refused an equity release on her home in Hill Ridware because of the HS2-effect.
She said: "I don't want to move but it's not very nice to know you can't. I wanted the money for a number of things, mainly to help my family with their own properties, but the finance company said I couldn't have the money because they didn't think they would get it back.
"You can see their point, it's not a good business deal for anyone. It's very frustrating, we're two years down the line but we still don't know what's going to happen."
Plans for the Staffordshire section were on view at Armitage village hall on Saturday(3rd). HS2 bosses say they have made a number of changes following residents' concerns, including making the line go under the A38, the West Coast Main Line and the South Staffordshire Line, rather than run over them on viaducts.
HS2 spokesman David Meechan said: "I can understand residents' frustrations as they had been expecting an announcement by the end of 2014. We have had to do more work since then on route and station options. And we are now looking to extend the route to Crewe sooner than originally planned. We have made our recommendations to ministers and they have said that they will provide an update on phase two later this year."
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