Survey highlights property owner’s ignorance over rail link compensation

High speed railway compensation issue

Property owners in the UK affected by the new high speed rail line between London and the Midlands are still in the dark as to whether or not they are entitled to compensation, a new survey shows.

Some 46% of owners likely to be affected don’t know what they are eligible for and the vast majority fear their property will be worth less, the survey from property consultants Knight Frank shows.

However, James Prewett, an expert valuator and member of Knight Frank’s HS2 team, says property owners affected by the London to Birmingham high speed rail link should not give up if their initial application for compensation is refused.

Knight Frank has successfully achieved compensation under the Exceptional Hardship Scheme (EHS) for clients who need to sell their property, but have seen its value fall due to the announcement of the HS2 scheme.

‘It is important to persevere with an EHS application when an initial interim panel refusal has been received. Knight Frank has been successful in re-applying to the formal panel,’ explained Prewett.

‘It can be very disheartening to property owners when a refusal is made. It is important to carefully look at why the claim was turned down and if, or how, the points can be addressed. A fresh pair of eyes can be very useful, along with a professional reapplication. Claimants must be willing to look at all aspects of their application, especially the marketing and guide price criteria,’ he added.

The survey also found that the vast majority also feel they have received insufficient information about HS2 and Knight Frank says that any commercial, residential or agricultural property owners who think they will be affected by should seek professional advice as soon as possible.

Those surveyed were critical of the government’s efforts to justify the need for the scheme, explain its implications and provide details of the compensation available to those affected.

‘Although we do not take a view on the merits, or otherwise, of the scheme, it is clear from the results of this survey and by talking to many of those affected, that HS2 Ltd and the government could have done more to keep them informed,’ said James Del Mar, head of Knight Frank’s HS2 team, which acts solely for adversely affected property owners.

A five month consultation has just opened and road shows will be held along the length of the route, but many people have been living under the shadow of the scheme since it was first announced in March 2010. For those with an urgent need to sell their properties, the uncertainty has been particularly unsettling.

‘Owners likely to be affected should take a proactive approach towards any compensation schemes, including compulsory purchase. Landowners, in particular, should ensure that they don’t ignore the opportunities that HS2 may present. Two examples of this could be the potential for mineral extraction and residential or commercial development, added Del Mar.

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