From left, Robert Latham, Roger Low, chairman Dick Booth, Richard Asher, Steve Martin, Luisa Auletta and Kate Macmillan with the empty HS2 place
Stanley Johnson: proposed compensation needs to be 'revised very significantly'
Published: 17 January, 2013
EXCLUSIVE by TOM FOOT
BORIS Johnson’s father has attacked the “deeply flawed” government compensation scheme for property owners facing years of blight because of the High Speed 2 rail route.
Stanley Johnson said the proposed compensation was a “real attack on investments”, “unfair” and needed to be “revised very significantly”.
His Regent’s Park home is just a few metres outside a compensation zone surrounding the £33billion HS2 railway route from Euston to Birmingham.
Home-owners in the zone will be invited to sell their properties to the government at 10 per cent above the market price. Those outside will get nothing but face years of blight.
Mr Johnson, a former Conservative MEP and father to Boris, re-elected as London Mayor last year, and Jo Johnson, Tory MP for Orpington, was at a packed meeting in Camden Town on Tuesday to discuss the HS2 scheme.
He did not speak out against the scheme at the meeting but told the New Journal yesterday (Wednesday): “I would say the proposal is deeply flawed at least as far as the question of compensation is concerned. It is almost as if they are saying: ‘Sorry folks, you paid X for your house five years ago, but now – tough luck – that house is going to be worth X minus 25 per cent’.”
Mr Johnson, an author, added: “Regardless of whether HS2 is a good scheme or not, I do think there are some serious issues of fairness and equity in the way the proposal is being put forward.”
HS2 Ltd has said countryside home-owners living within 60 metres of the railway line will be eligible for compensation – but the rule does not apply for London.
The packed meeting, organised by the Camden Cutting residents group, was held in the Forge, in Delancey Street.
Boris Johnson has already questioned the route of the scheme and asked government colleagues to “give us proof that this train will help the economy”.
The compensation system hinges on the idea that because city streets are more built up than in rural areas the impact will be “negligible”.
In Camden, home-owners in Mornington Terrace and Park Village East – which overlook the railway – are not being offered compensation or the chance to sell their homes.
Stanley Johnson said: “I think the point which was made very strongly at the meeting was that it is not right to propose compensation for properties affected in rural areas, while refusing compensation for properties similarly or worse affected in the towns. That does seem to me to be a crucial point of equity and fairness.”
He added: “People pointed out that there are houses within 60 metres of the proposed line which are not eligible for compensation, yet it is perfectly obvious that, even now, when the Bill hasn’t gone through, they are affected by blight.”
Camden Cutting Group represents residents and tenants living in Camden Town and Mornington Crescent. It wants HS2 Ltd’s “safeguarding zone” to be extended to include their homes. The 10 per cent-above-market-price figure for homes in the zone will be capped at £47,000.
Richard Asher, director of compulsory purchase orders and compensation at Savills estate agents, who worked on the Crossrail project, said at Tuesday’s meeting: “You should be in exactly the same financial position after HS2 is built as you are now, or were before it was proposed. That is an important principle that is sometimes overlooked by authorities when they are establishing these schemes. From what we have heard tonight, I question whether that principle is being applied by HS2.”
HS2, the company set up by the government to run the scheme, refused an invitation to attend the meeting. To underline their absence, the panel posed for a photo with an empty place for HS2.
A HS2 spokesman said: “We would encourage everyone with an interest in the compensation proposals to respond to the consultation by January 31 so their views are considered by the government.”
A compensation workshop at the Town Hall from 2pm to 5pm today (Thursday) will have Hilary Wharf, from HS2 Action Alliance, as guest speaker.