CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Just four homes have been sold to Government under HS2 compensation scheme

Stanley Johnson praises HS2 officials who helped him sell his home under "Need to Sell" scheme

10 August, 2017 — By Tom Foot

Keir Starmer MP blasts Government’s “dilatory” response to House of Lords recommendations 

JUST four of the hundreds of homeowners affected by HS2’s demolition plans in Camden have managed to sell their property under the government’s compensation scheme, the New Journal can reveal.

The figures give weight to residents’ complaints about HS2’s “need to sell” scheme, which aims to compensate those living within earshot of the new railway line who can prove a “compelling reason” to sell.

The author and former Conservative MEP Stanley Johnson, father of Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson managed to sell his Park Village East property to the Government for £4.4million in March 2016 – but it seems his neighbours have not been so lucky.

Nick Carn, who lives in Park Village East, said he had made three unsuccessful applications to sell his home since beginning the process in early 2016.

In his and his wife Eve- line’s official “petition” to the House of Lords, last October, he told the com- mittee: “My problem with that is that I don’t actualy expect to have a com- pelling need to sell. I might be quoting Peter Bottomley, the MP, if I say, ‘You just want to move, don’t you?’ That’s exactly the situation. Somebody else might just want to move.”

Mr Carn has appealed to the government to adopt recommendations made by the House of Lords select committee to introduce a “voluntary purchase scheme” that would make it easier for Camden residents to sell-up.

Holborn and St Pancras MP Keir Starmer has this week written to the Trans- port Secretary Chris Grayling saying there has been a “dilatory and feeble” response from the government to the Lords’ recommendations. The committee had considered months of “petitions” from the general public in a drawn-out legal process that many felt simply fattened the wallets of barristers and was an affront to democracy. Mr Grayling is yet to respond to Mr Starmer.

Mr Johnson was once one of the most outspoken critics of HS2, attending several public meetings and speaking on radio and television against the project. He stressed this week that he had been “treated at all times courteously and efficiently by HS2 officials” during what he admitted had been an “onerous” process of sell- ing his home.

He told the New Journal: “Facing the prospects of HS2 being routed less than five yards from our front door, and years of disruption, as well as the need to relocate – as we have done – nearer an elderly relative (now 94), my wife and I did indeed apply to HS2 under the need to sell scheme. I am sorry if others have had a different experience but my understanding is that there have in fact been several other successful applicants from the area under the scheme.”

An HS2 official con- firmed that “just four” homes had been sold in Camden under the need to sell scheme, adding: “We understand that people living close to the line of route will be concerned about the impact the project may have on their properties. That’s why six years ago we set up the first of a series of compensation schemes to help give homeowners affect- ed by the scheme the chance to sell their properties at their full unblighted market value, well ahead of the start of construction.

“In order to ensure value for the taxpayer, applicants need to show that they have a compelling need to sell their property, and once bought, the vast majority of lettable properties are rented out and will be sold after the first trains are running.”

 

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