HS2: Select Committee acknowledge Camden’s unique circumstances in compensation report

The High Speed 2 (HS2) Select Committee has highlighted several areas where the Need to Sell compensation scheme could work better in Camden in its First Special Report of the 2015-16 session.

The report – which you can read in full on the Parliament website – highlights the need to consider the implications of London’s high business rates and property prices and the impact that the intensive works Camden will experience might have on the scheme.

The Committee’s advice reflects several of the points made in our “Fair Deal for London” Compensation Charter.

We have summarised the committee’s recommendations that we feel would be of most interest to Camden’s residents and businesses as follows:

Key points for Camden

  • The Committee advises that exposure to particularly intensive and prolonged construction works may well provide another valid reason for wanting to move and that this is particularly acute in Camden. The Committee suggests there is some scope for recognising people in this situation by way of communal benefit or benefits.
  • The Committee suggests that the business rateable value limit of £34,800 may be too low for London businesses. The Committee welcomes Camden Council providing details on Drummond Street businesses exceeding the rateable value limit and is seeking a quick, preliminary response from the Department for Transport (DfT). Depending on this response, the Committee may seek a review of the current limit.
  • The Committee would like DfT to look at whether exceptions or provisions should be made to non-resident landlords whose rental income may be reduced during construction blight, for example, where this income provides a critical element of a small pension.
  • The Committee has asked DfT to consider whether the requirement to have not received an offer within 15% of the property’s realistic asking price should be reviewed for London, where asking prices are often achieved or even exceeded.

Other points made in the report include the view that that the desire to release capital should count as a compelling reason to sell, as should "age and stage" of homeowners, for example, retirement and the need to move for a new job. Accessing preferred schools and the need to be close to a new business venture might also be valid reasons for wanting to sell.

Functioning of the Need to Sell scheme

The function of the Need to Sell scheme was set out in the report and the following points made:

  • There has been an increase in acceptance rates under Need to Sell since it replaced the Exceptional Hardship Scheme. There have been 45 acceptances and 29 rejections of Need to Sell applications (61% success rate). Yet these are very low acceptance numbers given the 43,000 properties within 500m of the proposed line.
  • The time to process applications has increased from an average of 6.9 to 8.5 weeks.
  • The scheme is too arduous and off-putting and this must be addressed to improve the overall acceptance numbers.
  • HS2 Ltd. has been overzealous in obtaining financial and medical information.
  • Committee notes that their assessment has wider significance in forming the basis for a Phase 2 (Handsacre to Crewe) Need to Sell Scheme.
  • The Committee feels that the assessment panel has too many HS2 representatives on it.

Find out more about Camden Council's response to HS2 on our HS2 webpages.