Owners forced to sell by HS2 furious at cancellation

Sarah Beer, Compulsory Purchase and Compensation Lawyer at Excello Law, has contributed to an article for The Law Gazette about the government’s decision to abandon the HS2 Extension. Beer acts for families impacted by the scheme and says many will be outraged by the decision to pull the plug, particularly those who have sold their homes.

An attorney well-versed in disputes related to the HS2 extension, Sarah Beer, has expressed her clients’ deep frustration in response to this week’s decision to abandon the project. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced the government’s discontinuation of the northern route of the high-speed rail link, citing a shift in the project’s investment rationale.

Reports have indicated that the government has invested approximately £423 million in acquiring numerous properties and land for the Birmingham-Manchester leg. However, Transport Secretary Mark Harper has now confirmed that there will be no compensation for those who were compelled to sell their properties.

Sarah Beer, a specialist in compulsory purchase cases, continues to represent families adversely affected by the HS2 scheme. She asserts that many individuals will be deeply dismayed by the decision to terminate the project.

“I have witnessed numerous claimants teetering on the verge of, if not already experiencing, mental distress due to the overwhelming stress caused by this scheme. Such distress is entirely unacceptable. It arises from the looming threat and eventual reality of having their homes, farms, and businesses uprooted, moved, or shuttered by HS2. Compounding this stress is the difficulties they encounter when dealing with HS2 during negotiations regarding their claims,” stated Beer.

Beer goes on to highlight how property owners have been dissuaded from investing in their homes and businesses, given the uncertainty surrounding whether their investments will go to waste if their properties are ultimately demolished. Furthermore, they lack the assurance that they will be able to recover all associated investment costs from the acquiring authority.

Illustrating the challenges faced by those affected, Beer mentions a case she is currently handling involving a farmer whose land was bisected by the proposed route. Initially, the land was compulsorily purchased for the railway line, after which the farmer sold his property at a significantly reduced price.

Despite the compulsory purchase taking place in 2019, the final valuation for the acquired land remains unresolved, and HS2 has been unresponsive regarding the farmer’s claim for severance and injurious affection. Beer observes, “This impasse in negotiations is causing additional stress and expenses for the claimants. To exacerbate matters, HS2 is reluctant to engage in alternative dispute resolution (ADR) to expedite the resolution of these claims outside of the upper tribunal. Consequently, as the six-year limitation period for compensation claims approaches, claimants will be compelled to seek a determination in the upper tribunal, incurring further costs for both the claimants and taxpayers alike.”

Read the full article for the Law Gazette here