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The villagers forced to move out of homes due to HS2

By Megan Archer | Staffordshire | Politics | Published:

“Everyone in the village would absolutely love to see HS2 scrapped.”

Residents say they would love to see HS2 scrapped

June Brown-Bullivant could not be clearer in her opposition to high speed rail, with a section of the Phase 2 line set to pass straight through the heart of the Hopton village she has called home for nearly two decades.

As vice-chairman of Hopton and Coton Parish Council, Miss Brown-Bullivant has seen first hand the upheaval and disruption caused by HS2.

Houses will be demolished, properties have been bought by HS2 and leased out, and long-standing villagers have been forced out of their homes.

And all this before work on the line has even begun in earnest.

Today an influential House of Lords committee called for a “major rethink” on the rail line, concluding that the Government has yet to “satisfactorily” explain how it can justify the huge costs of the controversial project.

Lower Bridge Farm is among the properties impacted by HS2

“We have seen houses sold to HS2 and people who have lived here for years move away from the village,” said Miss Brown-Bullivant, who lives in Kings Drive. “These properties lose 30 per cent of their value.

“Some of them have been let to people who come here for a short time, others remain empty as they can’t get anyone to fill them.

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“The people who are renting don’t really take an active part in village life. The atmosphere is very different.

“There is no doubt that HS2 has changed life in the village for the worse.”

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June Brown-Bullivant in front of her Hopton home

HS2 admits the loss of homes will have a “significant impact” on the community, reducing the village’s open market housing by a tenth.

The village will also see 77 of properties on Kings Drive, Lower Lane, Wilmore Hill Lane, Hopton Hall Lane and Hopton Lane experience a significant increase in noise levels due to the running of trains along the route.

Miss Brown-Bullivant, whose own house has been on the market for a year without a single person coming to view it, says people living in Hopton have not given up hope of HS2 being scrapped.

She said the parish council was visited by representatives of HS2 three weeks ago for an update.

“I asked if it was still going ahead and they said “definitely,” she said. “But no one seems sure exactly what is going on.”

HS2 set up a compensation scheme for homeowners, giving them the chance to sell their properties at their full market value ahead of the start of construction work.

Farm shop and restaurant closed after 30 years

A popular family farm shop and cafe was forced to close its doors after 30 years of trading – because it lay in the path of HS2.

And despite the owners now settling down in their new farm in a new county – 18 months after closing – they have said that HS2 is still very much on their minds.

Packington Moor Farm shop, near Lichfield, first opened in 1986 but served its last customers on September 23, 2017.

Owners Rosemary and John Barnes said it was a ‘tremendously sad’ occasion.

Owner Rosemary Barnes on the last day of Packington Moor Farm shop

They have since moved on to a new farm near Cheltenham in Gloucestershire.

On their last day of trading – a Saturday – they enjoyed a busy shop full of customers wishing to show their support.

But 18 months on, they still haven’t forgotten about the hardship HS2 caused their family. Mrs Barnes said: “HS2 is not entirely in the past for us. We have only really just completed the move.

“It was a very big move, and the magnitude of it can never really be understood. That’s something not taken into account with these projects – how ordinary people like us are affected by it all.”

Asked how she would feel if HS2 never went ahead, after causing her family so much grief, Mrs Barnes added: “I just don’t know.

“I would not like to say how we would feel.

“I think we would just feel incredibly sad and frustrated. Because this has taken such a huge toll on our lives, for it all to come to nothing would just be so frustrating.” The Barnes family had been on the Lichfield farm since 1921.

The farm shop was opened in 1986, which then led to the family hosting weddings in the garden.

They hosted their last wedding in December of 2017 before shutting down for good.

Mr and Mrs Barnes brought their two children up there; and even enjoyed their grandchildren living with them for some time.

Of the 19 buildings on the site, it was planned that 15 would be knocked down for HS2 and one of the four that will remain standing is the farm house.

It is a joint wedding venue, shop, cafe and farm.

Thirty jobs were lost on the farm site and cafe as well as a further 20 at the wedding venue.

Megan Archer

By Megan Archer
Deputy Chief Reporter - @MeganA_Star

Deputy Chief Reporter with the Express & Star. Give me a call on 01902 319363 or email megan.archer@expressandstar.co.uk.

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