HS2: Government commits to fairer compensation but must do more to reduce impact of HS2

Camden’s push for a fairer deal on HS2 compensation has been given a significant boost after the Government committed to offering additional compensation to communities most affected by HS2.

The Government has also agreed to remove unnecessary compulsory purchase powers from the HS2 Bill, following pressure from the Council at Select Committee. But the Government must do more to provide funding for the comprehensive redevelopment of Euston station and maximise materials transported by rail to reduce the impact of HS2 on Camden.

The Government’s latest positions are set out in its response to the House of Lords Select Committee’s report published in December, which strongly supported many of the Council’s key petitioning points and made recommendations on key issues raised by residents.

Read the Government’s response in full.

Councillor Phil Jones, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Transport & Planning
“It’s taken years of Camden pressure and hard negotiation, but the Government has now for the first time said it is prepared to offer more compensation to Camden residents most affected by HS2.

“The Government now has the opportunity to deliver the fair deal for Camden the Council and residents have long campaigned for. Our priority will be to scrutinise the new compensation scheme when details become available, to ensure that both tenants and property owners who face serious disruption are eligible for compensation as suggested by the House of Lords.

“We welcome the Government’s acceptance that far-reaching compulsory purchase powers have no place in the HS2 Bill. This will allow us to make the most of regeneration opportunities. However, we question if the Government is truly committed to making the most of opportunities at Euston to deliver a world-class station providing the maximum number of new homes and jobs. Despite acknowledging the need for a single, redesigned station, the Government has not committed funding for Network Rail’s future design stages.

“Equally, HS2 Ltd’s targets for removing material by rail remain disappointingly low. We will continue to press HS2 Ltd to do more to get lorries off our roads and seek ways to reduce the impact of HS2 on Camden.”
Councillor Phil Jones, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Transport & Planning

Fairer compensation

The Government has recognised that compensation needs to be “fair, reasonable and proportionate, in the spirit of the strong recommendation of the Select Committee”. We welcome this commitment from the Government, which has consistently failed to recognise the scale of impact on residents in urban areas including Camden.

The Government will now develop a new compensation scheme. This will include offering Camden homeowners the chance to sell their homes for their full and unblighted value, if they qualify for temporary rehousing because of severe disturbance from construction.

Compensation will also be offered to Camden households that will suffer “severe and prolonged noise and disturbance”, but the Government has not committed to sums, defined what it means by this terminology, or indicated if it will be offered to tenants as well as leaseholders. The Government has only said that there will be “appropriate arrangements” for tenants. The Select Committee recommended that council and private tenants should be compensated, suggesting £10,000 as an appropriate sum.

We look forward to the Government providing more detail on the schemes as soon as possible. We are concerned that the Government’s proposals for urban areas are still different to the schemes offered in rural areas, where distance from the line is the only criterion. Any scheme must address the current lack of fairness.

Compulsory purchase powers

The Government has accepted the Select Committee’s removal of 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.

Euston station

We continue to urge the Government to provide funding and timescales for the comprehensive redevelopment of Euston station. We welcome the Government’s statement that it “shares the vision for a Euston station that seamlessly integrates High Speed Rail, National Rail, London Underground, potential future Crossrail 2 requirements and local transport, and supports wider regeneration”. In order to deliver this, we continue to urge the Government to provide ongoing funding and detailed timescales for the comprehensive redevelopment of Euston station. We will continue to push for an integrated station through our membership of strategic boards and raise the issue at the highest levels of government.

Materials by rail

We are disappointed that HS2 Ltd has continued to fail to commit to specific and ambitious targets for transporting construction and waste materials by rail. The Council took this issue to Select Committee and continues to call on HS2 Ltd to maximise the amount transported by rail in order to remove dangerous and polluting lorries from Camden’s roads.

Petitioning process

We are concerned that the Government has not acknowledged that the petitioning process was difficult for petitioners to navigate, suggesting that last-minute negotiations were beneficial to petitioners. The Council was disappointed that much of our negotiations throughout the parliamentary process were just before our appearances at Select Committee. The House of Lords Select Committee agreed that the process “did not serve petitioners well”.

Final stages of the HS2 Bill

The HS2 Bill is now in the House of Lords for final scrutiny and debate over amendments. Royal Assent of the HS2 Bill, which would give HS2 Ltd permission to start building the railway, is currently expected in early February 2017.

Last week the Government was forced to reconsider amendments that would have given it further wide-reaching powers over traffic and parking, following pressure from Camden Council, highway authorities including Transport for London, and Members of the House of Lords. We are waiting to see the redrafted amendments on traffic management.

We will continue to use our limited powers and hold HS2 Ltd to account to reduce the scheme’s impact on Camden.

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