HS2 in Hansard 05/03/2013

Property Blight Compensation


Motion for leave to bring in a Bill (Standing Order
No. 23)
2.58 pm
Mrs Caroline Spelman (Meriden) (Con): I beg to
move,
That leave be given to bring in a Bill to require the Secretary of
State to amend legislation to allow for noise contours to be used
as a measure of property blight caused by national infrastructure
projects; and for connected purposes.
Having represented a constituency at the heart of the
midlands motorway network for almost 16 years, I have
seen the impact of successive efforts to improve the
national transport infrastructure, often with harsh
consequences for local residents. Early in my tenure, I
visited a familywhose homewas just beyond the threshold
for compensation on the hard shoulder of the M42,
despite the fact that the motorway noise blighted their
property as much as their next-door neighbours who
got compensation. The M42 has vastly exceeded its
intended capacity and the hard shoulder is now used for
active traffic management, so the property would now
be eligible on simple metreage.
Afewyears later, theWhite Paper on aviation proposed
a second runway at Birmingham airport, which came as
a bolt from the blue for local residents. Immediately,
they had difficulty selling their homes, yet no statutory
compensation was available.
The airport came up with a proposed voluntary
compensation scheme based on noise contours rather
than straight metreage from the runway, which gained
broad public support. The airportmaps the noise contour
of every flight, so there is a strong scientific base for
estimating noise nuisance and taking account of the
prevailing winds. Most recently, the proposal of HS2
has brought a new blight to villages and a council estate
in my constituency. Once again, statutory blight laws
mean that compensation will not be paid until one year
after HS2 opens in 2026, except on the grounds of
hardship, which are, of course, discretionary. That adds
yet more uncertainty. Although blight is often most
severe when uncertainty is at its highest, and when HS2
is built the impact on properties will probably be much
less than feared, the blight is now.
Large infrastructure schemes can take a huge amount
of time to progress from the initial announcement to
completion of the scheme. During that process, the
scheme will often change as more information becomes
available, although home owners or landowners do not
know that at the time.As the Country Land and Business
Association points out, farmers and landowners are
prevented from making important business decisions,
sometimes for a whole generation. That impacts not
only on those individuals, but on their suppliers and
markets.

Statutory blight and compulsory purchase provisions
do not encourage an acquiring authority to conclude
compensation negotiations quickly. Although provisions
for paying interest on outstanding claims are available,
the statutory rate is 0% and the landowner foots the loss
at a cost of 5% per annum. Some claims will remain
outstanding for 10 years. For example, some landowners
have still not been compensated for the building of the
M6 toll road.

The Land Compensation Act 1973 makes provision
for compensation for the depreciation of property values
caused by physical effects such as noise, but such
compensation is available only a year after the infrastructure
is built. The blight is now, and current metreage-based
compensation does not help those who may feel the
same physical effects of the scheme as their neighbour,
but are a few extra metres away.
I believe compensation should be paid in advance of
the railway opening, in anticipation of the nuisance it
will cause as modelled by noise contours. If accurate
scientific information about the physical effects of the
line on properties was made available, it would ensure
that residents receive proper compensation, reduce the
level of uncertainty about the effect of the line, and
therefore reduce blight. We must be clearer about noise
data sooner and clear up the fear that causes generalised
blight.
The HS2 voluntary compensation scheme is an example
of how the rigidity of the metreage approach does not
address blight. Homes within 60 metres of the track are
safeguarded by compulsory purchase provisions, and
those within 120 metres can be purchased on a voluntary
basis.However, the eligibility criteria ignore the prevailing
wind direction or contours in the land that shield or
aggravate noise.My Bill is designed to make the eligibility
for compensation fairer and more scientifically based,
and create parity between roads, rail and airports. Such
a proposal does not detract from the property bond
proposed by other pressure groups seeking better terms
of compensation for those affected. I am aware of the
broad base of support for the property bond compensation
scheme that would tackle the root cause of property—the
loss in property market confidence.
To give one example from many, my constituents,
Mr and Mrs Hickin of Berkswell, live about 500 metres
north of the HS2 line past their village. Their interest-only
mortgage must be repaid in 2015 and they had planned
to downsize to a smaller property and pay off the debt.
Despite being on the market for nearly three years and
reducing the price of their home by £90,000, they have
received no offers and live with the worry that they will
not be able to meet their financial obligations. Other
constituents whose properties have been on the market
for several years have not received any offers, even when
dramatically reducing the price. That is not unusual
among affected constituencies such as those of my
neighbour, my hon. Friend the Member for Kenilworth
and Southam (JeremyWright) andmy right hon. Friend
the Member for Chesham and Amersham (Mrs Gillan).
On average, properties have lost 20% of their value. The
exceptional hardship scheme suffers from a lack of
credibility. The Government will be consulting on phase 2
of that, so why not bring it forward and consult on
amendments to phase 1?
When Birmingham airport proposed its voluntary
compensation scheme, it was designed to support the
sale of property within a defined boundary of the noise
contour with a bond. The level of noise recognised by
the aviation industry to trigger voluntary compensation
is 66 dB. The boundary of eligibility was drawn with
sensitivity around semi-detached properties where one
property might be eligible but the other not, so as to
avoid the kind of rigidity I experienced with motorway
compensation. The bond was based on an independent
valuation of the difference between the base price before

the announcement and the reduced price thereafter. An
independent commissioner was appointed to review any
complaints that compensation had been incorrectly
calculated and applied.
I believe that model offers a more scientific basis for
eligibility for property bonds and would allow many
people now experiencing blight from major national
infrastructure projects to receive fair recognition and
move on with their lives. Essentially, it would bring
forward part 1 payments under the Land Compensation
Act.
In conclusion, blight laws must be reviewed and
changed to help those who, through no fault of their
own, are blighted by decisions made in Westminster. In
the long term, HS2 is vital for this country’s economic
progression and for the west midlands economy in
particular, but we should not balance the books on the
backs of home owners and landowners whose property
may reduce in value. Adding flexibility to the way blight
is measured, removing the strict metreage classification
in the current compensation scheme, and recognising
the loss in value through a property bond would be a
welcome reform for many.
Question put and agreed to.
Ordered,
That Mrs Caroline Spelman, Mr Graham Brady,
Andrea Leadsom, Mrs Cheryl Gillan, Dan Byles and
Mrs Anne Main present the Bill.
Mrs Caroline Spelman accordingly presented the Bill.
Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on
Friday 26 April, and to be printed (Bill 144)

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Crossrail 2

TheParliamentary Under-Secretary of State forTransport
(Stephen Hammond): Theremay ormay not be outstanding
benefits from Crossrail 2, but that would certainly be a
disbenefit.
Iain Stewart: The Minister and I agree on many
things, butwe will disagree in our football team allegiance.
On whether the proposed scheme for Crossrail 2 is
the optimal one, I have an open mind. It might be, but a
slightly different one could be used, linking with the
North London line to Willesden and elsewhere and
with extra branches. I have an open mind, but I am
happy to support the principle of Crossrail 2.
My second point is in the context of High Speed 2. If
HS2 goes ahead with its planned route into Euston,
that will deliver a huge increase in the number of
passengers into and out of the station. For the reasons I
mentioned, I fear that the existing tube network will not
be able to cope. Yes, some passengers will get off at Old
OakCommonand come into central London via Crossrail
1, but not all will. I suspect that a comparatively small
percentage of the arrivals will want Euston as their
destination; they will want to travel on to other parts of
London. If they are faced with enormous congestion at
Euston, the attractiveness of HS2 will be diminished
and its business case undermined; however, Crossrail 2
feeding in more people to use HS2 from Euston would
augment the business case, about which there has been
controversy lately.
The purpose of my contribution was briefly to make
those two points. I am supportive of the principle of
Crossrail 2 and happy to look in further detail at
specific schemes. I am also happy to join the all-party
group, once it is up and running. I will not make any
comments on the funding, although I agree with the
point made by the right hon. Member for Tottenham
that the cost of doing nothing might be far too high. I
congratulate him once more on securing this important
debate.

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Yvonne Fovargue (Makerfield) (Lab): I congratulate
my right hon. Friend the Member for Tottenham
(Mr Lammy) on securing the debate. I also congratulate
Members who have spoken on their knowledgeable and
passionate speeches about their constituencies and the
links they need.
There is little doubt that the taskforce’s final report
set out a strong case for Crossrail 2. Credit should be
given to Andrew Adonis, a former Labour Transport
Secretary, and London First. The report iswell researched,
and it good to see a growing consensus, particularly on
the line of route. That is a tribute to the knowledge and
hard work of all those involved.

The case for a new rail line between Hertfordshire
and parts of Surrey and Middlesex, via a new tunnel
between Tottenham and Wimbledon, is based on the
increasing congestion that will accompany the projected
rise in population and employment in London over the
coming decades. As the report says—my right hon.
Friend touched on this—employment in London is
expected to grow by 700,000 in the next 20 years, with
the population overall rising by 1.5 million. Increased
congestion is expected to be particularly severe on an
alignment running south-east to north-west, and that
will not be significantly alleviated by Crossrail 1 or
Thameslink.
Crossrail 2 has the potential substantially to increase
capacity, relieving congestion on some crowded sections
of the underground, particularly on theVictoria, Northern
and Piccadilly lines. That could take great pressure off
somemajor termini interchange stations, such as Euston,
King’s Cross,Waterloo and Victoria. Beneficiaries would
include commuters coming from as far afield as
Southampton and Portsmouth.
This is clearly a persuasive document—almost as
persuasive as the passionate speech by my right hon.
Friend theMemberforTottenham—but there are questions
to be answered. Crossrail 2 is an expensive project. The
report costs it at about £12 billion. How will it be paid
for? What relationship does it have to HS2, which was
recently given the go-ahead by the Government, at a
cost of £34 billion?
There is a growing consensus that the completion of
the second phase of HS2 will have significant consequences
for the London transport system. Again, the report
makes that clear. Even without HS2, passenger arrivals
at Euston in the morning peak period are set to rise by
30% by 2031, and HS2 would perhaps double the
number of people arriving at that time. That would
seem to make the Crossrail 2 interchange at Euston
essential. If HS2 and Crossrail 2 are interdependent
schemes, surely their planning and funding must be
looked at together.
I repeat my question, however: where is the money to
come from? It has been suggested that the funding
stream from Crossrail 1 could be redirected to Crossrail 2,
but has not that money already been allocated to HS2?
Obviously HS2 and Crossrail 2 cannot be funded at the
same time with the same moneys. Could businesses
make a contribution? After all, they will undoubtedly
gain, as well as commuters. At the time of Crossrail 1
the then Labour Government gave the Mayor the power
to introduce a business rate supplement. Could that
happen with Crossrail 2? Has the Minister had any
discussions with the Mayor or with businesses about
contributing to the cost?
Indeed, what discussions have been taking place at
all? I should like to know how much preparatory work
the Government have already undertaken on the project.
In particular, what analysis have Ministers made of the
impact on London’s transport system of HS2 without
Crossrail 2? That is the crucial question.

Transport systems are naturally interlinked. One part
affects the others. Crossrail 2 is about London, of
course, but it connects to other parts of the country.
Our transport policy needs to be nationwide. How does
the Minister think Crossrail 2 fits in with the bigger
transport picture? It is vital that essential transport

projects in other parts of the country should not be
adversely affected by the concentration of funding in
one geographical area, despite that area’s undoubted
importance.

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