Stoke & Staffordshire

HS2 compensation is 'better than nothing' say residents

Gilson, a hamlet just outside Coleshill
Image caption The HS2 line would cut through Gilson, a hamlet just outside Coleshill

Fresh schemes have been announced to compensate people affected by the high-speed rail line. But what is the verdict in Staffordshire and Warwickshire?

After a High Court challenge ruled the compensation being offered was "unlawful", there are new measures to support people blighted by HS2.

They include a "quick and straightforward" express purchase scheme for people living closest to the development and the possibility of cash payments to people living between 120m (390ft) and 300m (980ft) from the tracks.

Until now, many people said they faced the prospect of blighted properties and a lack of compensation options.

'Relieved and pleased'

For John Whitehead, who lives in the Warwickshire hamlet of Gilson, 78m (255ft) from the proposed line, the announcement was a "complete relief".

He said his property was valued at £475,000 in 2010 - a week before news about HS2 emerged.

Until the latest compensation packages were revealed, he had feared it was worth nothing.

"We have been living with this uncertainty for four years and it has consumed our lives," said the 65-year-old.

"Now we are relieved and pleased. It is as it should be."

Image copyright Other
Image caption The line would run through villages in Warwickshire and Staffordshire and some residents say the compensation is a "drop in the ocean"

Andrew Peach lives in the village of Marston, Staffordshire, where phase two of the route, between Birmingham and Manchester, is intended to run.

He moved to the area with his young family in 2008 because he wanted to live in a "peaceful, rural area" and said he was devastated by the plans for HS2 when the route was announced.

He said the value of his home would drop £80,000 were the line to be built.

'Drop in the ocean'

"We would be in negative equity if the line goes ahead," he said.

"We live 200m away from the track. Until now, that's been just too far away to benefit from any kind of compensation."

The government is consulting on plans to offer a cash payment of between £7,500 and £22,500 to people in Mr Peach's position.

He said it was "better than nothing" but a "drop in the ocean" compared with what he stands to lose.

"When we moved here, we planned to live in the area for a long, long time," he said. "This is our home."

Image copyright Google Maps
Image caption Southam Country Stores in Southam currently employs five people, but the owner fears trade will be hit

The planned HS2 line skirts outside the Warwickshire industrial estate where Val Sudbury has run a pet shop, Southam Country Stores, for the past 16 years.

She said she was not sure whether her business was close enough to the track to benefit from the latest compensation announcement.

"Knowing our luck, we would be just outside it," she said.

"They are altering the roads by us and there's lots of disruption in the area. It would be nice to think we would be in it (the compensation boundary)."

'Extremely sad'

The shop employs five full-time workers and Mrs Sudbury feared she would have to make redundancies because of a possible loss in trade.

"It's going to be dreadful - not just the line but the infrastructure," she said.

"The whole lot is on our doorstep. Noise, lorries - it will be horrendous as far as we are concerned.

"It is bound to affect trade and that in turn is going to affect employment, because if there is a downturn in trade you have to make redundancies."

Image copyright David Lumb
Image caption Whittington Heath Golf Club in Staffordshire stands to lose its club house and five holes

The proposed line takes out the club house and five holes at Whittington Heath Golf Club, Staffordshire, which dates back to 1886.

Kelvin Edwards, chairman of the committee that manages the course, welcomed the improved compensation announcement and is hoping there may be scope to buy extra land, build a new clubhouse and reshuffle the holes.

But he said if the club had to move it would probably fold and the compensation would be divided between members.

"That would be extremely sad," he said. "We would rather the whole thing went away.

"It's not a question of acquiring a new field and building a new course.

"A large portion of the current membership would not follow and would move to competing courses."

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