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Copyright 2019 Simon Turton | All rights reserved

THE HUMAN COST OF HS2

After a seven-year dispute with HS2 over the purchase of their blighted property, Mr and Mrs Palin, from Knutsford in Cheshire, have launched a Crowd Justice campaign to raise funds to challenge HS2 in court to secure a true, open market price for their family home, which is due for demolition to make way for the Crewe to Manchester spur of HS2.

In 2012 the family was planning to move house, but following HS2’s announcement by the government in January 2013, their house became ‘blighted’ as it was within 80 metres of the original route of this section of HS2, Phase 2B.

Since HS2 was first announced the Palins have suffered years of stress and anxiety, which has affected family life and has impacted on both of their businesses. In January 2018 Trevor suffered a breakdown, which attributes entirely to their on-going battle, but was unable to taken any time off, as he explains: “I had to work through some very dark days because we could simply not afford for either of us not to work. I know this affected my ability to work and it did cause problems for a number of important clients.”

Commenting on their seven-year struggle with HS2 Justine Palin, a business consultant, said: “It is shameful that it has taken seven years jumping through HS2’s compensation hoops and we are no further forward — we still have a property that we cannot sell, we cannot re-mortgage and if we did want to make any changes we would have to get the permission of Chris Grayling MP, the Secretary of State for Transport. 

“But this case isn’t just about compensation, it’s about the toll that this long-running battle has had on family life and it’s about the impact on the mental health and wellbeing of everyone whose lives have been affected by HS2.

“We now have a team that is supporting us and guiding us through the maze, but many are not so lucky and once we have settled our case we want to do all we can to help others whose lives have been similarly blighted at the hands of HS2.” 

In 2015 the Palins applied for compensation under HS2’s Exceptional Hardship Scheme (now defunct) — the government undertook to either buy blighted properties or pay a lump-sum if the properties were close to HS2. Their application was rejected for a number of reasons, the main issue was that they hadn’t tried to sell their house, even though the property had been unsellable since 2013 and any marketing activity would have been futile. 

Phase 2B’s route was revised in 2016, which will now go through the Palins’ kitchen; the house became eligible to be compulsory purchased. The initial offer from HS2 was only £30,000 more than the Palins paid when they bought the house in 2007. HS2’s own guidelines clearly state that such properties will be paid the open market (‘unblighted’) value plus 10%. The impasse with HS2 has left the Palins with no choice but to go to court so that they can finally end years of stress and turmoil, and get on with their lives.

The irony is that the Palins are not opposed to the high speed line being built, but they did expect to be compensated in line with HS2’s own published guidelines and to be treated with the respect that the Secretary of State for Transport, promised in 2017.

ENDS

NOTES FOR EDITORS

The link to Mr & Mrs Palin’s Crowd Justice fundraising site is: 

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/holding-hs2-to-account/

The map of HS2, which relates to the section of Phase 2B, which will go through the Palin’s home:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/629140/C320-AEC-RT-DPP-240-072820_HSM28A_Key_Plan.pdf

HS2’s Residents’ Charter, set in the context of Chris Grayling’s promise that

“Property owners along the route will be treated fairly, compassionately and with respect.” 17 December 2017:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/704895/CS959_Community_Engagement_Residents_Charter_26_4.pdf

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