Burton Green: The Warwickshire village split down the middle by HS2

By Riyah Collins and Susie Rack
BBC News

image captionBurton Green village, in Warwickshire, has a population of 640 people

Between Coventry and Kenilworth lies Burton Green, a small village home to 640 people where you would be hard-pressed to find a supporter of high speed rail. Residents have been fighting the project - which will split the village in half - for the past 10 years. As the government confirms the controversial rail link will go ahead, residents living in the village and beyond react to the news.

image captionJohn and Diana Levett left their home of 26 years to make way for the route

"There are not many elements of HS2 I'm not familiar with," Burton Green resident Chris Langton says.

Over the past decade, Mr Langton, who has lived there for 37 years, has made it his business to know the ins and outs of the impact of HS2 on his community.

But today he was resigned to the fact the project will be going ahead, effectively bisecting the Warwickshire village.

Mr Langton estimates he could lose up to £100,000 if he sells his home, with no guarantee HS2 will buy it and property values at risk of decreasing.

He had hoped the government would decide to scrap the line and now feels that Boris Johnson was "not brave enough to make the sensible decision".

"The best outcome is to cancel it and work on more sensible infrastructure projects," he said, but feels that high speed rail has become a "political football". He has become so disillusioned that for the first time in his life he neglected to vote in the December election.

image captionThe village hall in Burton Green is also due to be torn down for HS2

His point of view is echoed by Rona Taylor, who runs the village's residents' association.

"It's a very frustrating day because we have opposed this for 10 years," she said. "And I personally think this is a sad day for the country - what else could that £106bn be spent on in the country at the moment?"

The impact on the community has been "stressful," she said, adding that 37 houses in the village had been sold to HS2, fracturing the community as those who may not otherwise have moved have had to up sticks.

media captionHS2: 'I think fairly soon we might well see evictions'

One such couple is John and Diana Levett, whose former home of 26 years will be torn down to make way for the route.

"We were sad to leave the house and the area, because we had really good friends here," Mr Levett said. "I think HS2 could have been a lot more understanding and at least realistic about the impact on people."

John and Rosalie Vine have lived opposite the planned route on Hodgetts Lane for more than 20 years and have no intention of moving.

image captionMany of John and Rosalie Vine's neighbours have now left the village

They have seen the village decline since they gathered, tightly packed alongside 200 other residents, into the community hall in March 2010 when the line was announced.

They look out on to homes formerly owned by neighbours - now by HS2.

"I think there are only three left out of that whole other side of the road," Mr Vine said.

"It's disrupted the community," his wife added.

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionBusinesses hope HS2 will mean people stay in Crewe, rather than just changing trains there

Elsewhere in the Midlands, reaction to the announcement that the scheme will go ahead is more mixed.

Cate Walters runs a health and safety consultancy just outside Crewe, where HS2 will have a station, and said the impact high speed rail will have on the local economy "cannot in any way be down played".

"What we hear a lot is 'change at Crewe'," she said. "Not many people stay in Crewe and the investment in the town has been absolutely atrocious.

"It's really about getting people to not just change at Crewe but to actually invest in the town itself, put down roots here, and how that will boost the local economy for us."

image captionThere are large construction works in Birmingham city centre for the HS2 station in Curzon Street

The first phase of the route will travel between London and Birmingham, where the city's council leader Ian Ward welcomed the news.

"The people of the Midlands and the North have been neglected for far too long and HS2 is a once in a generation opportunity to rebalance the UK economy," he said.

image captionChris Williams said the priorities were "wrong" for a deprived community

Outside the city, residents in Chelmsley Wood were disappointed. Like in Burton Green, HS2 has been less than popular in this area of Solihull where residents expect to see little benefit.

"It takes about an hour at times to get the bus in from Chelmsley Wood to Birmingham city centre," Chris Williams, the ward's Green party councillor on Solihull Council, said. "But we'll have a train service to London that takes 50 minutes.

"The priorities don't seem quite right."

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