HS2 pays half of landowners late for compulsory purchase

Only half of land and property owners have received the compensation payments they should have had from HS2 within the prescribed three-month window.

This is a finding by a National Audit Office (NAO) report on performance of the high-speed rail project.

The NAO investigated HS2 following concerns raised about the purchase of land and property to support the delivery of the project.

HS2 needs to buy about 70sq km to build phase one of its route between London and the West Midlands.

See also: Compulsory purchase – who can enter your land?

CLA Midlands regional surveyor Richard Goodwin confirmed he had members waiting for payments beyond the three-month window.

“The system is broken and it is not acceptable,” he said.

HS2 Ltd must compensate claimants under a compulsory purchase order with 90% of HS2 Ltd’s valuation of the property within three months of the claim being issued.

Between March 2017 and August 2018 payments have been later than the three months, or are forecast to be later, in 52 out of 108 cases (48%), the NAO report found.

HS2 Ltd’s analysis of the reasons for not meeting its requirements for advance payments found that of the 52 outstanding cases, 17 were, at least in part, because of delays caused by HS2 Ltd.

The estimated cost for HS2 Ltd to buy the land and property has increased hugely. The 2012 estimate for land acquisition for this phase was £1,12bn at 2011 prices.

Since then it has risen through several re-estimates to £3.356bn, which is just £308m less than its budget of £3.664bn.

Inflation, route changes and a more detailed understanding by HS2 Ltd about the land required had significantly increased estimated costs, said the NAO.

The government also introduced additional discretionary compensation schemes designed to enable property owners to claim compensation if their property is affected by HS2, but is not on the route itself.

HS2 Ltd predicts it will need to compensate up to 10,000 affected individuals and businesses, and process up to 50,000 compulsory purchase notices between 2017 and 2022.

The first phase of HS2 from London to the West Midlands planned to open in 2026.

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