HS2 in race to secure remaining land needed for first phase

HS2 is facing a race against time to secure the remaining land needed for the rail project’s first phase. The scheme, which aims to improve links between London, the Midlands and the North[1], requires roughly 70 kilometres squared of land for its first section to Birmingham. But about 13 sqaure kilometres, or nearly a fifth of the total, has still not been purchased, a Freedom of Information request by The Telegraph has revealed.

And while land for the project can be forcibly acquired using compulsory purchasing powers granted by Parliament, these are due to run out in just four weeks’ time. The Department for Transport has ruled out any extension to the powers, meaning HS2’s bosses are now racing to ensure they can secure what is needed in time. Forced purchases of land needed to complete the GBP100bn railway have repeatedly emerged as one of the most controversial aspects of the scheme, with residents saying they feel devastated after leaving their homes.

The process has been delayed by legal challenges which in some cases have dragged on for years. HS2[2] said the owners of the land required for the scheme had already been served with compulsory purchase orders, with only 2pc of the total still outstanding. It plans to serve the remaining notices in the coming weeks and claimed that some land was being held in temporary possession, meaning it can be relinquished later if it is not needed when designs are refined.

HS2 said it was not possible to say how much the outstanding land it needs to acquire[3] is worth as this was still subject to negotiations. A HS2 spokesman said: “HS2 Ltd is confident that all the land required for Phase One will be secured before powers expire and we have no intention of extending the existing compulsory purchase powers. “In many cases we have deliberately delayed serving notices until as late as possible to give additional time to develop plans that will minimise the amount of land that needs to be acquired permanently.”

The project was previously forced to settle a GBP500m lawsuit after landowners claimed it undervalued their properties in London. Sydney & London Properties said its land and four office buildings, next to the rail project’s Euston terminus station, were worth GBP700m rather than the GBP200m offered by the infrastructure scheme’s bosses. That sum would have made it the biggest compulsory purchase order in history.

The first phase of HS2 is expected to cost GBP40bn, with about GBP13bn spent so far including on land and property.

References

  1. ^ improve links between London, the Midlands and the North (www.telegraph.co.uk)
  2. ^ HS2 (www.telegraph.co.uk)
  3. ^ outstanding land it needs to acquire (www.telegraph.co.uk)




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