New Clause 31 - Compensation: application

Part of High Speed Rail(London - West Midlands) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:30 pm on 8 March 2016.

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Photo of Robert Goodwill Robert Goodwill Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport) 2:30, 8 March 2016

Landowners affected by the exercise of compulsory acquisition or by the construction or operation of the works will be compensated according to the compensation code. The code is a collective term for the principles deriving from Acts of Parliament. It is supplemented by case law relating to compensation for compulsory acquisition. The code is already applied by the Bill to the compulsory purchase of land required for HS2.

Depending on the particular circumstances in each case, compensation can be claimed for the unblighted market value of a property; severance and injurious affection, which is the depreciation in the value of land retained where only part of the claimant’s land holding is acquired; disturbance, representing the costs and losses incurred as a result of being disturbed from the occupation of the property; loss payments, which are an additional set payment depending on the nature of the interest being acquired, for example the home loss payment for a residential owner-occupier is 10% of the unblighted property value up to the maximum value of £47,000; fees, which include reasonable surveyors’ fees incurred in preparing and negotiating a compensation settlement together with solicitors’ fees for any conveyancing; loss in value due to physical factors such as noise, after trains start running; and diminution of value of the claimant’s interest in land caused by the works interfering with his or her private rights.

The compensation code forms part of the general law relating to compulsory purchase and it is entirely appropriate that it should apply to HS2. In addition to those statutory rights, the promoter has introduced a number of discretionary compensation schemes, in recognition of the specific impacts on property along the line of route. Those go significantly beyond what is set out in statute and address the points in the new clause relating to compensation for those who may be severely affected by the works.

The hon. Gentleman has outlined the compensation and purchase schemes, including the express purchase scheme and the voluntary purchase—he drew attention  to the fact that there is an alternative cash offer of 10% of the unblighted market value of their property with a cap of £100,000 and a minimum payment of £30,000. He also outlined the “need to sell” scheme, which has been operating successfully in our view, particularly in the light of the some of the suggestions being made by the Select Committee; and the homeowner payment scheme, which would provide cash payments to eligible owner occupiers between 120 metres and 300 metres from the centre of the line. This would be made following Royal Assent of phase 1 of the hybrid Bill, enabling residents to share early in the future economic benefits of the railway and contributing to community cohesion.

With regard to tenants, it is important to remember that we would seek to mitigate effects where appropriate through such things as noise insulation. Where a tenant is significantly affected, they can complain to their landlord, with whom they have a contract, and it would be for the landlord to seek resolution. Tenants do not have the same restrictions on free movement that can afflict homeowners blighted by this type of project.

I hope that demonstrates that the Bill and our discretionary schemes have gone above and beyond what is required to ensure those negatively impacted by the construction and operation of the line have fair compensation. I hope the hon. Gentleman can withdraw his new clause .