At a meeting with a Senior Property Acquisition Manager at High Speed Two, residents of a doomed small hamlet near Lichfield struggling to find replacement properties were told “You Could Live in Caravans”
The small community at Knox Grave Lane and Flats Lane, Weeford, Nr Lichfield were told three and half years ago that their houses may be required to make way for phase one of HS2. Residents are finding it almost impossible to find equivalent replacement properties in this sort-after greenbelt area near Lichfield. The community has come up with a cost effective and innovative plan to enable them to build replacement houses in the locality. Community representatives claim that HS2 have refused to engage meaningfully, to work with residents to achieve this plan despite the Lichfield District Council and Staffordshire County Council being supportive.
Earlier in the summer HS2 Ltd committed to demolishing all of the houses to clear the way for the community to approach Lichfield District Council to obtain planning permission for replacement houses. In an about turn in the last few weeks HS2 Ltd have reneged on this assurance leaving the residents once again in limbo.
At a crunch meeting last week to explore ways forward the Senior Property Acquisition Manager at High Speed Two said “You could live in caravans”.
Local residents are furious with HS2 Ltd. Jonathan Loescher a local accountant and smallholder said “Am I supposed to keep my sheep, ducks, turkeys and chickens in the caravan with me? Am I supposed run my accountancy business from a caravan? HS2 Ltd and the government are completely out of touch with the problems residents affected by the scheme are going though. We just want to be able to get on with our lives.” Pete Bennett a resident of Flats Lane said “We have spent hours in spurious meetings and consultations with HS2 Ltd and achieved nothing because it is clear that HS2 Ltd are refusing take into account the plight of those whose homes and businesses are being destroyed by the scheme”.
In a separate local development representatives of the communities of Drayton Bassett, Hints, Weeford, Swinfen and Packington unanimously voted a motion of no confidence in HS2 Ltd’s handing of the local Community Forums. The Community Forums are supposed to be regular meetings of officials from HS2 Ltd and Representatives of local communities where concerns and ideas from local communities are taken on board by HS2 Ltd and feedback given to the communities involved. Ann Outen, a member of Hints Action Group said “We have put forward a reasonable proposal for a short tunnel which would protect the high value, designated landscape and also help reduce the blight on the community of Hints. At the last Community Meeting it became clear that HS2 Ltd has no intention of incorporating this into the design and the suspicion is that this has always been the case. There is anger and frustration within our community as to how we have been duped by HS2 Ltd into cooperating in the Community Forums . This anger is compounded by the continuing serious blight on property values in Hints”