HS2 phase 2 property purchases cost £1.4m – after route scrapped

The government has paid more than £1m to buy properties on HS2’s northern leg since scrapping the route, it has emerged.

The Observer newspaper revealed on Sunday that three property purchases have been made since prime minister Rishi Sunak announced last October that phase 2a of the megaproject will not go ahead.

A total of £1.4m was spent on the purchases, carried out under schemes initially set up to remove properties from the intended route of the rail line between Birmingham and Manchester.

The sales were all by owners who had volunteered to sell, rather than compulsory purchases.

HS2 and the Department for Transport (DfT) said the deals were too far advanced to call off.

Construction News’ sister publication, New Civil Engineer, revealed last year that the DfT spent £564m in total buying land and property for phase 2, including £208m between Birmingham and Crewe, as well as £196m between Crewe and Manchester.

Soon after Sunak’s announcement, ministers said the land acquired for phase 2a would be sold.

Despite this process not having started by January, Labour party leader Sir Keir Starmer ruled out reviving the axed route should his party win the next general election.

A DfT spokesperson said this week: “Property acquisitions can take months, and the three property acquisitions that were finalised after 4 October were so far advanced that it would not have been fair on the owners to withdraw.

“We are continuing to develop a clear programme for selling land no longer needed for phase 2 of HS2, ensuring our approach provides value for the taxpayer and fully engages with the people and communities affected.”

An HS2 spokesperson added: “These three property transactions all started prior to the Network North announcement in October. In the interests of fairness, and in line with our legal obligations, we are completing all purchases where the property owner wishes to proceed. This process has taken several months.

“In line with government advice, we’re now in the process of closing down the phase 2 programme in an orderly fashion, while being mindful of the needs of local communities and the taxpayer.”

Last week, CN revealed that the cost of decommissioning works already begun on phase 2a has still not been worked out.

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