Today is the last day of the HS2 Phase 2 Exceptional Hardship Scheme consultation. As you can see from below, you don’t have to write a long response, just get a response in. The email to send response to is HS2EHS@ipsos.com
Please find below the official response to the Phase 2 Exceptional Hardship Scheme from Stop HS2 Ltd. It is not confidential. Try not to lose it this time!*
Do you agree or disagree that the DfT should introduce an Exceptional Hardship Scheme for Phase 2 ahead of decisions on how to proceed with the routes? What are your reasons?
There is a need for a compensation scheme to be in place immediately as properties along Phase 2 of the planned HS2 route have been devalued since at least January 28th 2013. Some places in Warwickshire and Staffordshire have been blighted since before then, due to it being obvious as to where Phase 2 would start.
It is unfair and unjust that people do not become prisoners in their own homes for 20 years by not being able to sell their house or receive financial redress from HS2 Ltd. However, it is clear that the terms of EHS are unacceptable, as the success rate of 25% from applicants on Phase 1 of the route under EHS.
It is blatantly unfair that the DfT require people to have to have a ‘good reason’ for selling their home, especially as the terms for hardship are so narrow.. Simply wishing to sell your home should be criterion enough, the DfT must accept that loss is loss, irrespective of personal circumstance or distance from the line and accordingly compensate those experiencing loss fully.
Do you agree or disagree with the proposed criteria underpinning the EHS for Phase 2? What are your reasons? Please specify any alternative principles you would propose, including specific criteria for determining qualification for the scheme.
Stop HS2 completely disagrees with the criteria proposed, as they have demonstrably failed in the two and half years in which EHS has operated on Phase 1 of the proposed route. Besides the point made in the answer above, that “wishing to sell your home should be criterion enough, the DfT must accept that loss is loss, irrespective of personal circumstance or distance from the line and accordingly compensate those experiencing loss fully”;
· The requirement to demonstrate hardship is unfair. Homeowners should simply be required to demonstrate blight, i.e. a loss of value to their property to qualify for full compensation.
· It is unreasonable to ask applicants to market their house for 3 months, when many estate agents know properties will not sell at unblighted values and therefore demand marketing fees upfront. If this criterion is retained, any such marketing costs should be included in compensation payments. It is also unreasonable to expect homeowners to have to accept an offer representing a 15% loss.
· The scheme should not be limited to owner-occupiers. A property is an asset whether you live in it or not, and it is the case that some owner-occupiers on Phase 1 have become landlords as a direct result of not being able to sell their house because of HS2 blight, whilst having to move away from the area.
· It is unreasonable to set and arbitrary limit due to distance from the line. It has been our experience that entire postcodes or villages have been blighted as a result of HS2. There are many other factors besides distance from the line, such as visual intrusion, noise and the effect of construction on access which is making homes unsellable.
· The phrase ‘need to move’ should be replaced by the phrase ‘wish to move’.
Do you agree or disagree with the proposed process for operating the EHS for Phase 2? What are your reasons? Please specify any alternative arrangements which you would suggest.
It should be clear from the answers above that Stop HS2 does not agree with the proposed process. Any scheme which is implemented must be transparent with an independent appeals stage.
*In 2011, Hs2 Ltd lost over 400 responses to the main HS2 consultation, including that of Stop HS2 campaign manager, Joe Rukin. Afterwards, HS2 Ltd updated their analysis to include these lost responses, and it was clear that they had still lost the response as according to their analysis, no-one had mentioned several of the points he made in his response.