Meanwhile, the start of the public consultation on HS2 has been pushed back from this autumn to early in 2011.
This delay creates further uncertainty for property owners who will have to wait even longer to find out if their property will be devalued, or even bulldozed to make way for the line.
The decision by Philip Hammond, the new secretary of state for transport, to delay the consultation for the proposed London to Birmingham high-speed rail link (HS2) increases the uncertainty for property owners along the route, despite the introduction of an "exceptional hardship" scheme.
The new scheme will compensate those people who have to sell (within strict criteria), but have seen the value of their properties fall since the announcement of the HS2 scheme. However, those not covered by the scheme will now have to wait even longer to find out if their property will be devalued by the line, or even bulldozed to make way for it.
James Del Mar, head of Knight Frank’s specialist HS2 team – which offers specialist advice on valuations and compensation claims to property owners likely to be affected – said: "It is good news that the Government has agreed to introduce an exceptional hardship scheme for those whose properties lie along the proposed route of HS2, particularly as it covers agricultural and commercial properties with a rateable value below £34,800. It is still not entirely clear who will qualify, so those who are unsure should seek professional advice.
"The delay in the consultation is less welcome as it prolongs the agony for property owners along the route who face years of uncertainty waiting for the line to be built. The most important thing that they need is some certainty as to whether or not it’s going to happen and, if so, when.
"It is a trait of our planning system and of the economy that it takes a very long time between inception and delivery, and that’s tough on some people. Would you buy a house that might be demolished in 12 years time?
"It is intriguing that the date of the consultation has been moved. This could be a signal that the scheme is running out of momentum. It doesn’t read to me like a firm commitment to march on with the intended programme. It could be the beginning of some slippage with a view to putting it on the backburner."
Anybody affected by HS2 can receive a free initial consultation from Knight Frank’s HS2 team.
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