Farmers along the proposed route of HS2 from London to Birmingham can make compensation claims following the “safeguarding” of the line on Tuesday (9 July).

Safeguarding is a planning mechanism that protects the controversial high-speed rail line from any development that could affect its construction or use. The safeguarding zone is generally about 120 metres wide.

Subject to certain eligibility requirements, the owners of property within or partly within the safeguarding zone can now serve a statutory blight notice on the government. If accepted, the government will buy the property for its open-market, unblighted value.

However, farmers needed to consider their options carefully before making a claim, warned James Del Mar, head of Knight Frank’s HS2 team.

“You can only serve a statutory blight notice for an agricultural unit where it includes a farmhouse lived in by the applicant and the notice must be for the entire property, even if only a small portion will actually be required for HS2.

“The government may agree to buy that part, but anybody serving a notice needs to be aware that it could be rejected or that they will be legally obliged to sell their entire farm if it is accepted.”

Property needed for HS2 and not purchased via the statutory blight process will generally be acquired using a compulsory purchase order. These are likely to be issued in 2016, if the enabling legislation for HS2 makes it through parliament as planned in 2015.

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