The go-ahead has been given by the Department of Transport for the High Speed 2 (HS2) rail link project aiming to “revolutionise” capacity and national connectivity with the first phase of construction connecting London and Birmingham. It is planned that trains will run around 14 times an hour in each direction at a maximum speed of 225 miles per hour with direct links via the HS1 line to Heathrow airport and the continent. A second phase will then extend the line to Manchester and Leeds which supporters claim has potential to establish those cities and their surrounding areas as major business hubs.
RICS head of policy Jeremy Blackburn, voicing RICS support of HS2, comments that it has huge potential to contribute to economic growth, lower carbon emissions and free up capacity on the existing transport network.
However, HS2 is not heralded as good news for everyone. Hundreds of property owners face either demolition, negative impact or potentially blight on their property interests and property values are likely to be affected at least in the short term. Compensation and small claims schemes are planned to assist those affected but this is unlikely to wholly alleviate the fears and concerns of affected property owners when construction work is expected to span over 8 years with the completed scheme scheduled for 2016.
It is vital therefore that due diligence on any transaction involving property in the vicinity of the planned HS2 route includes some degree of investigation into the potential affect of the scheme. The conventional search of Local Authority records routinely carried out on a property transaction is limited to schemes within a 200 metre radius of the property and is unlikely to be sufficient considering the nature of the scheme. Specialist search providers have already launched specialised HS2 searches with a radius of 5000 metres which will also provide an indication of the maximum speed of the train at the nearest point of the route to the property.
News of the project is no doubt music to the ears of insurance companies and environmental search providers; the proposed route currently affects at least 23 Council areas.
Watch this space for our comments on the proposed Thames Tunnel.