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HS2 rail project facing legal action over compulsory purchase house undervaluation

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A Cheshire couple are taking legal action against the company behind the UK’s £56 billion HS2 railway expansion project, claiming that their home – which is set to be acquired by HS2 via a compulsory purchase order – is worth far more than HS2 have offered them.

The controversial HS2 scheme was originally designed to provide a new, high speed rail connection between London, Birmingham, the East Midlands, Leeds and Manchester. It has already consumed over £5.5 billion of mainly public money, including the compulsory purchase and demolition costs for around 400 houses, and the whole scheme has recently been threatened with early termination due to the spiralling costs involved.

£60,000 shortfall

The couple taking legal action against HS2, Trevor and Justine Palin, originally had their 150 year old cottage valued at £485,000 in 2013 but were only offered £400,000 by HS2. The property, in leafy Knutsford, is right in the path of Phase 2 of the planned HS2 line connecting Crewe with Manchester. HS2 eventually and ‘grudgingly’ increased their offer to £440,000, but Mr Palin, a professional photographer, claims that six years later the cottage is now worth at least £500,000. Under the compulsory purchase order rules, HS2 should pay the market value if there had been no such scheme, plus a ten per cent on top to cover further compensation and expenses.

The Palins say that the six-year valuation battle with HS2 has left its mark on their whole family, with Trevor Palin in particular claiming that it has resulted in him having to take medication for a nervous breakdown. Mr Palin said:

We’re not Nimbys, and we appreciate the need for a rail link. HS2 has blocked us at every turn and offered us low valuations.”

The family also say that they were told by HS2 that seeking ‘alternative dispute resolution’ was their only course of action. This would mean that an an independent panel of experts would determine the worth of the property, but the Palins would have to stump up the £8,000 costs themselves. They refused and have raised money via crowdfunding to take their case to a industrial tribunal at the High Court. Ahead of the tribunal, the Palins solicitor Tony Houghton commented:

Every single property offer negotiated by HS2, where people are not happy with the valuation, could be re-examined and potentially revalued as result…we could have hundreds of homeowners coming forward."

Help is at hand...

If you are thinking about suing another company but are worried about the costs of resolving the dispute or going to court, Advantage Litigation Services can help. We have vast experience navigating the different ways of funding commercial dispute resolution and are best placed to help you identify the most appropriate funding option and litigation protection that will best benefit you and your business. Click here to contact us or call 0800 160 1298 to discuss how we can help you manage the risks and find a funding option that works for you.

 

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