Farmers and landowners likely to be affected by the HS2 rail project need to check maps issued today (Thursday 25 October) as part of a 12-week government consultation. The maps will show areas of land which it is proposed will be affected by what is known as the “safeguarding” process.

This identifies land on which any development can be blocked if that development would frustrate the HS2 project. Once the land is identified, local authorities will be issued with safeguarding directives, said James Del Mar, head of Knight Frank’s HS2 team.

Objections can be raised to the proposals for land to be safeguarded, as can suggestions for the inclusion of additional land.

“Farmers and landowners must take advice and engage fully with the consultation process to safeguard their own interests and compensation prospects,” said Mr Del Mar.

Also, before making any major changes to land or property ownership or occupation, it was important to realise that there were important timing and financial implications with regard to HS2 compensation.

“For example, if a farmer passes land to his son but keeps ownership of the farmhouse, he will preclude a claim for compensation on the house until 2027.

“This is because where some of the land will be required for the construction or use of the railway, a claim can be brought at the time of compulsory purchase, whereas where no land is to be compulsorily acquired, a claimant has to wait until one year after the railway has been first used.”

“People often simply haven’t reviewed these documents in the light of their long term strategic aims and the impact that existing arrangements will have on their compensation claims.”
James Del Mar, Knight Frank

Advice should also be taken on decisions about the letting of buildings and land as these could also affect compensation rates, said Mr Del Mar.

It was also important that affected landowners make sure all documents are correct and that the status of affected land is established – accuracy of ownership and occupation documents such as title registrations and appropriate, up to date tenancy agreements was crucial.

“People often simply haven’t reviewed these documents in the light of their long term strategic aims and the impact that existing arrangements will have on their compensation claims.”

The consultation also sets out additional measures mainly affecting private houses which are not part of a farm, although these could apply to a limited number of small farms, suggested Mr Del Mar.

These include:

  • A system of advanced and voluntary purchase to simplify the process for property owners in safeguarded areas and provide greater certainty for those immediately outside it
  • A sale and rent back scheme to allow homeowners whose property will need to be demolished to sell their homes but remain living in them as tenants until the properties are required for the railway
  • A hardship scheme to help those that need to move during the development of HS2, but are unable to sell their home despite being outside both the safeguarded area and the voluntary purchase zone

The Property and Compensation consultation (London to the West Midlands) opened today (25 October) and closes on Thursday 31 January 2013.

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