‘HS2 land grab could be worse than expected’

Plans: Stop HS2 Crofton has published a map of areas of land it thinks will be claimed by HS2.
Plans: Stop HS2 Crofton has published a map of areas of land it thinks will be claimed by HS2.

Campaigners battling against HS2 believe the project could be used to ‘sledgehammer’ through other developments that may not otherwise be approved.

Jonathan Pile, chairman of campaign group Stop HS2 Crofton, said compulsory purchase orders had been used in the south to buy up land up to 100 metres from the proposed site of the tracks as part of a “safeguarding zone”.

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He said: “HS2 could require much more land than people expect for the construction of railway, which is often not returned to the owner but is sold to developers for projects. This has happened in London.

“HS2 has been used as an excuse to put through proposals to build alongside the railway. It has been used as a sledgehammer to push through other developments.”

Mr Pile said many people who had sold their homes under compulsory purchase orders had been left out of pocket and severe delays for payment from HS2 Ltd had been widespread.

The amount of land that will be bought up in the district will be confirmed later in the year, but the campaign group has drawn up a map of areas it said could be affected.

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Mr Pile added: “It may even be worse than we are projecting.” The proposed route runs via Hemsworth, Crofton, Sharlston and Normanton.

Hemsworth MP Jon Trickett said: “We are still trying to find out from HS2 Ltd how many properties will be affected, and we have received reports that residents who have sold to HS2 Ltd have been made to sign confidentiality clauses.

“It’s wrong that they are operating in secret when so much is at stake.

“The news that HS2 is also failing to pay half of compulsory purchase claimants within the required time limit will further add to the climate of mistrust and secrecy that has developed in the area I represent.”

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An HS2 spokesman said plans for the next stage of the project would be published in autumn and public consultation would begin.

He said: “This document sets out our latest plans and designs, alongside our proposals to mitigate impacts. We encourage people to get involved and have their say.

“When the railway is complete, we will seek to hand back any surplus land needed for construction.”