Discretionary schemes for HS2 Phase 2a: Are you eligible?

The Government recently issued their long-term property compensation and assistance schemes, which will apply to Phase 2a of High Speed Two (HS2) (from the West Midlands to Crewe). 

The applicant’s eligibility for a scheme usually relies on the location of the property (with the exception of the Need to Sell scheme, which has no geographical boundary).  The property will fall into one of four areas: Safeguarded Area, Rural Support Zone, Homeowner Payment Zone or Outside the Zones.  For further detail on each scheme, please click here.

The discretionary schemes are largely based on those which apply to Phase 1, but with some improvements, which include:

  • Applicants being able to choose their own RICS registered valuer as one of the two property valuers in respect of the Need to Sell Scheme.   The advantage of such change is that it is more likely that the valuer will know the local property market.  However, the second valuer will still be from the HS2 panel and it is worth noting that in the event that there is more than a 10% discrepancy between the first two valuations, the applicant will need to choose a third valuer also from the HS2 panel.
  • Further guidance has been provided as to what will satisfy the ‘compelling reason’ criterion (one of the five criteria for the Need to Sell Scheme) in respect of health and mobility cited reasons. Greater weight will be given to evidence which shows that the applicant would face a physical burden (as opposed to a financial one) and the panel will now have discretion to look further ahead than the current 3 year period, but only in relation to health and mobility cited reasons.  It is unfortunate that the discretion has not been extended to include other scenarios, for example, unemployment, relocation for employment, debt, winding up an estate and divorce, particularly as each case is decided on its individual circumstances. 

The schemes will replace the temporary Exceptional Hardship Scheme for Phase 2a and will remain in place until 12 months after this phase first opens for public use (due to open 2027).  Any pending applications under the Exceptional Hardship Scheme in respect of Phase 2a will either be suspended (if the applicant is eligible to claim for a Cash Offer or Voluntary Purchase Scheme) or will be automatically transferred to the Need to Sell Scheme.

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