HS2: Compensate to recognise “human rights of thousands of residents”, say House of Lords
Camden Council is urging HS2 Ltd to act on the House of Lords Select Committee report’s recommendations for fairer compensation for residents, the joint design and funding for a world-class Euston station and to accept the removal of unnecessary compulsory purchase powers from the HS2 Bill.
The Committee’s report strongly supports many of Camden’s main petitioning points, making recommendations on key issues raised by residents and businesses over years of campaigning to reduce the impact of HS2 on Camden. Its recommendations for more compensation for cities could have far-reaching consequences for Phase 2 of the scheme, announced last month.
The report can be read in full on Parliament's website.
“Today the House of Lords backed Camden’s campaign for fair compensation, telling HS2 Ltd in no uncertain terms that they can no longer ignore the human rights of thousands of Camden residents and should properly compensate them for the decades of disruption that they face.
“Since HS2 was first proposed, we’ve stood with residents and businesses to highlight the unprecedented disruption its construction will have in Camden and the unfair discrepancy between rural and urban compensation. We’ve won the moral battle and the ball is now in HS2 Ltd’s court to pay up to residents who will endure years of noise, dust and disturbance.
“The House of Lords also agree that a new Euston station should be world-class and that the present splitting of the design between the proposed HS2 station and the current dilapidated Network Rail station will fail to achieve this. This is unlikely to maximise the potential for new jobs and homes we desperately need around a leading gateway to London we can take pride in. Even HS2 Ltd’s Chairman Sir David Higgins agreed this week that failure to do this would be a “disgrace”. We urge the government to act on the recommendation to speed up funding so that the station can be designed and developed as a coherent whole.
“We welcome the Committee’s steer that we retain our planning powers that would have been removed by the unnecessary Clause 48 and that materials should be removed by rail where possible.
“HS2 Ltd should know we won’t be standing idly by – we’ll be here, along with Camden’s community, pressing them to act on the House of Lords’ clear advice.”
The Committee has urged unprecedented changes to existing compensation schemes for residents in urban areas following the Council’s appearance at the Committee on this issue. The Committee rejected HS2 Ltd’s current assumptions that residents in urban areas will be less disrupted by HS2 than those in rural areas, and recognises that the impact on Camden is exceptional. The Committee echoed the Council’s call for the Voluntary Purchase scheme and alternative Cash Offer to be made available to homeowners in urban areas. The Voluntary Purchase scheme allows residents to ask the government to purchase their property for its full open market value. The Cash Offer would give residents an option to take a cash sum of 10% of the market value of their house (a minimum of £30,000 and a maximum of £100,000).
The Committee recommended that the scheme should be available to homes eligible for noise insulation due to severe impacts of construction, and also specifically mentioned that this should apply to Camden residents in severely impacted areas, including Mornington Terrace, Cartmel on the Regent’s Park Estate, Ampthill Estate and Park Village East. The Committee also said it was “most unsatisfactory” that works to Hampstead Road bridge on the Regent’s Park estate, which would impact Regent’s Park and Ampthill estates, are still uncertain at this “very late stage”. The Committee also recommended that both council and private tenants severely impacted should be compensated, suggesting £10,000 as an appropriate sum.
Euston station redevelopment
The Committee also urged the Secretary of State to ensure that “funding is provided for the second planning stage” of Euston station as it should be a “world-class” station. We petitioned at the House of Lords Select Committee for the comprehensive redevelopment of Euston station, so that the developed station integrates plans for HS2 and Crossrail 2. This would create potential for up to 2,200 much-needed homes and up to 16,000 new jobs. This is key to getting the best deal for the area and we continue to push for an integrated station through our membership of strategic boards and raising the issue at the highest levels of government.
Compulsory purchase powers
The Committee also recommended removing clause 48(1)-(3) from the HS2 Bill, which would give HS2 Ltd unnecessary powers to compulsory purchase land for regeneration purposes. The Council petitioned on this route-wide issue on behalf of 10 other local authorities, and this will also benefit local authorities in Phase 2 of the scheme, announced last month.
The Committee’s report marks the end of a long petitioning process. The Select Committee recognises that that this process is as out of date and “did not serve petitioners well” or the Committee in “trying to give petitioners a proper hearing”. The Council shares these concerns and last week submitted recommendations on improving the process to the Hybrid Bill petitioning review, including helping petitioners to navigate the process, abolishing petitioning fees and making the timetable and structure of negotiations for assurances clear.
Materials by rail
Whilst the Committee stated “we are very strongly of the opinion that as much material as possible” by rail, it is disappointing that they did not share the Council’s desire to hold HS2 Ltd to a fixed and ambitious target. The Council petitioned on this issue at Select Committee and continues to call on HS2 Ltd to limit the number of polluting and dangerous lorries planned to be used during the construction on the new rail line.
Final stages of the HS2 Bill
Following the report’s release, the HS2 Bill now moves back to the House of Lords for final scrutiny and debate. Royal Assent of the HS2 Bill, which would give HS2 Ltd permission to start building the railway, is currently expected in late January or early February 2017.
We will continue to hold HS2 Ltd to account at every opportunity on the assurances we’ve secured to reduce the impact of HS2 on Camden. We will seek to establish good working relationships with contractors and use the limited powers the Council has to ensure works are carried out safely and legally, with conditions on noisy works.
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