Cheshire East Council has responded to the Government's recent announcement that it is formally lifting the safeguarding directions for High Speed 2 (HS2) Phase 2a (between the West Midlands and Crewe).
On January 18th the Secretary of State for Transport, Mark Harper said "Safeguarding is a planning tool used to protect the land needed for the HS2 scheme from potential conflicting development. The safeguarding directions require the local authority to consult with HS2 Ltd on planning applications within the safeguarded land. By lifting safeguarding, the government provides certainty to people along the former route of HS2 and makes development easier, as HS2 Ltd will no longer object to proposed development in the area to which the safeguarding directions had applied.
"For areas where safeguarding has been removed, I have also today closed the Rural Support Zone, Extended Homeowner Protection Zone and Homeowner Payment schemes and will review existing applications on a case-by-case basis. This is because these schemes were established to support those impacted when the government intended to build Phase 2 of HS2. The Need to Sell scheme remains open for now as a 'safety net', for those who meet the criteria and have a compelling need to sell, until the blighting effect of HS2 has fully receded. Further information can be found on the claim compensation if your property is affected by HS2 webpage.
"High Speed 2 Limited (HS2 Ltd) is writing to the owners of properties affected by this update explaining what these changes mean to them personally. The Network North command paper also committed that Phase 2b safeguarding will be amended by summer 2024, to allow for any safeguarding needed for Northern Powerhouse Rail. I can confirm that this work is underway and I will set out further details regarding those areas that will come within the scope of these new safeguarding directions in due course.
"The lifting of safeguarding is separate from the programme for disposing of any property no longer needed for the HS2 project which will begin shortly. More details will be set out soon."
In response to the announcement Councillor Craig Browne, deputy leader of Cheshire East Council and chair of its highways and transport committee, said: "The council is disappointed that the Government has taken the steps to remove the safeguarding for Phase 2a of HS2, especially given there remain some uncertainties around what services will run on the West Coast Main Line north of Birmingham and therefore the key infrastructure that will be required – such as whether or not there will be investment at Crewe station to enable the longer 400m HS2 services to split and join at Crewe.
"The removal of the safeguarding for Phase 2a does not necessarily mean that any land already acquired by HS2 will be immediately sold, and the council will be requesting that Government publishes further details of the land sale process as soon as possible."
Cllr Browne added: "I recognise this news will undoubtedly cause concerns for residents and businesses who may have land interests that are affected by this announcement.
"While Government has said that it is writing to the owners of properties affected by this update explaining what these changes mean to them, I would like to remind them that the HS2 helpdesk remains available to them.
"The council continues to engage with Government to seek to secure a fair and equitable compensation and investment deal for Cheshire East following the cancellation of HS2 north of Birmingham."
To contact the HS2 helpdesk:
Freephone: 08081 434 434
Minicom: 08081 456 472
Email: [email protected]