The Department for Transport (DfT) has announced an overhaul of land and property acquisition for HS2, which it said will deliver ‘a fairer deal for communities impacted by the project’.
HS2 minister Andrew Stephenson has published the outcome of the Government’s HS2 land and property review, which was commissioned earlier this year after ministers gave renewed backing for the project, ‘alongside a commitment to improve management and boost transparency, accountability and value to the taxpayer’.
Artist's impression of Lower Thorpe Viaduct
The review makes 36 recommendations to improve acquisition processes, which the DfT said will pave the way for an improved system that focuses on ‘better communication, more flexible compensation packages and tailored support for businesses’.
Mr Stephenson said: ‘When we gave HS2 the go-ahead, we vowed that we would strengthen our oversight and control to ensure this vital project is delivered at the right price, and that those impacted by its construction get a fairer deal.
‘These recommendations will ensure communities are treated with respect by establishing a more transparent compensation process and creating tailored support for businesses.’
The DfT said work on implementing the recommendations will begin immediately, with priority given to those that will have the greatest impact.
The recommendations include measures designed to speed up property valuations and disturbance payments, settle cases and disputes more quickly, and ‘build on the improvements HS2 Ltd have introduced to engage more effectively with people’.
Tony Mulhall, associate director at the Royal Institution of Charted Surveyors, welcomed the recommendations.
He said: ‘Recommending better communication around a complicated system, such as compulsory purchase, and giving more support to those who may not be familiar with the processes, is a positive step.’
The DfT sought to quell fears that the eastern side of Phase 2b might not happen, referring to having given ‘the green light to build the entire HS2 project’ and to it running ‘to Leeds via the East Midlands’.