HS2 and the villagers trapped in homes nobody wants

Mon 04 Nov 2013

Burton Green is a village on the edge of Coventry, but it feels far from the urban bustle, with two or three roads that meander through its length, leafy gardens and big plots. On a map, the fields nearby are an uneven patchwork of triangular farmsteads, curved boundaries and clumps of woodland.

The projected route for HS2, however, runs straight as a ruler, east to west through the village. Houses within 60 metres of the proposed line are classed as the most severely affected, and their owners can expect to be entitled to compensation after the latest consultation is completed in December. Those whose houses fall within 120 metres, however, fear that, unless they can prove exceptional hardship, they will get little.

Chris Langton considers himself in the worst possible situation. He lives 125 metres from the centre of the proposed track, just a few millimetres outside the outer zone on the plans. He estimates that, even if he could sell his house now, it would fetch 40% less than it was worth before the HS2 plans emerged, that is if anyone could get a mortgage to buy so close to the line. While the consultation, which the government was ordered to redo, continues, he sees little hope of the boundary changing or of other proposals making a material difference for people like him.

Langton sees his options as selling at a £150,000 loss, but then being left with a sum too small to buy the type of property he would need, or waiting until the line is built and re-assessing. But that could be a long wait. "I'm 64. Fortunately I don't need to move tomorrow, but I am widowed, retired, and living in a four-bed house. This community has a lot of people my age and we are trapped.

"There was a house half a mile from the line that sold for £100,000 less than it was first on for. It's blight by postcode. No one is touching Burton Green with a barge pole. My flat roof needs replacing, and my garage door, but who would spend money on a property that has already lost that much value?"

John Levett lives just beside the Greenway where the new track will run. A train route axed in the Beeching cuts of the 1960s, it is now a haven for walkers and cyclists.

His house, where he and his wife have lived for 25 years, was initially due to be demolished as the new line was built, one of a handful at the centre of the village facing demolition. Under the latest drawings, it will stay, but with the track just metres from the house, they have just been given the go-ahead for compensation. In the strange world of property blight by infrastructure, that is something of a success.

Up the road, Mike Lynch is making a cup of tea in a white anti-HS2 mug ("OK it's a white elephant, but it's a fast white elephant," it reads).

"Can you see those trees there?" he says, pointing to a spot just a field and a garden away. "That's where it will be."

He and his wife Jackie do not think they will be entitled to anything. Both retired, they had been thinking of downsizing when the route was announced.

"I think the biggest cause for concern is that we are being thwarted from deciding if we want to sell up and move or not. We don't wish to give the property away, we need the funds for the years of our retirement, but because of the circumstances, we can't do that."

Not everyone here thinks the battle is over, and many speak enthusiastically about how MPs are now questioning the rising cost.

But as well as white elephants and "No to HS2" posters, there are "for sale signs" – 12 on just one stretch of road.

"We've been living with this for three and a half years," said one local. Even if they have to sell at a loss, it seems, some people have had enough.

Source; The Guardian

January 2017


April 2014

What dreadful decor would put you off buying a house?

March 2014

10 mortgage pitfalls and how to avoid them

Rising housing market spreads beyond London and south-east

February 2014

Help is at hand!

Moving to your own place? If you're renting for the first time follow Shelter�s top tips to avoid the common pitfalls.

Investments Opportunities

OFF market and GREY market

January 2014

Home or Space Ship?

Estate Agent in East Yorkshire


Residential Investment Portfolios for sale

Growing North-South split shown in latest property-price figures

December 2013

Estate Agent in Hull, Derby and Nottingham

Sell your house for FREE

House prices could rise by 8% next year, says Rightmove

UK weather: Clean-up operation begins following worst storm in 60 years

Residential Portfolios for sale

Housing market: surveyors most upbeat in 14 years

House prices rise again as supply squeeze continues

Why Invest in Hull?

November 2013

UK house prices rising 6% a year, says Nationwide

Mortgage lending hits nearly �10bn in October

Mortgage lending at highest level since 2008

Yorkshire bypasses � and betters � Help to Buy mortgages

BakerReed Properties Limited

Property market brims with confidence

House prices driven higher by supply shortage

The Ombudsman Service

What I'm really thinking: the first-time buyer

Buy-to-let indicates market is healthy

What estate agents have to tell you � changes to the law

HS2 and the villagers trapped in homes nobody wants

October 2013

House prices rising in every region in England � Land Registry

Pension or property � what's the best plan for retirement?

More evidence of growing homeowner confidence

Guide to money laundering

UK mortgage lending at five-year high

Rents rise to 'record levels'

Equity release � the gift that keeps on taking

Cash buyers waiting

Help To Buy

Five-year mortgage fixes start to rise

Should I use Help to Buy to buy a home?

House prices hit record high during summer