London

Stop ignoring us, say worried HS2 homeowners

People in west London who could lose their homes to a high-speed rail link claim they are being ignored by the government.

Ealing residents say they have been given little information on compensation or which homes will be bought outright to make way for HS2.

The Department for Transport (DfT) said 340 homes will be demolished along the route and consultation on blight will take place soon.

A consultation is due in the spring.

The £33bn high speed rail line was given the go-ahead in January and is due to link London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds, with plans to go further north.

Homes in Wells House Road near Old Oak Common in Ealing, which were built for railway workers in 1908, could be demolished to make way for an HS2 station.

'I was horrified'

Opera singer Nicole Tibbels said if the government bought her house at face value it could never compensate her for what she would be losing.

She said: "I teach people and I have a work room here which is very rare in London. The value of the house doesn't even cover that so it's important that I keep that.

"The first we heard about HS2 at all was when we had a letter through the letterbox saying there would be a consultation last April. I went along and I was horrified.

"I could not believe the plans could be so far advanced without saying a dickie bird to us."

Image caption Resident Joseph Allers says HS2 will happen whether locals support it or not

Ms Tibbels said she was told her house was unlikely to be required for compulsory purchase, meaning her home is likely to be the first house behind the new railway station.

Joseph Allers, who grew up on the road, said: "According to the plans the tunnelling will come through here and we're in the firing line but no one's said anything.

"They'll do what they're going to do anyway.

"It's upheaval and disturbance to save half an hour to Manchester. What's half an hour? It's not doing anything."

Widowed pensioner Lurlile Roper first heard about HS2 plan from a neighbour.

"What is happening? I don't get any feedback about what is happening to my property.

"We are totally forgotten. We only get remembered at election time," she said.

'Compensation scheme'

The government has so far spent £27m buying 47 homes along the HS2 route as part of Exceptional Hardship Fund.

A DfT spokesman said London would be one of the "big winners" from the project.

Image caption Pensioner Lurlile Roper feels she has been left in the dark about HS2 plans

"It will deliver improved connectivity with our great northern cities, extra space on the existing lines for more commuter services, a completely re-vamped Euston Station, a brand new interchange station at Old Oak Common and some 20,000 jobs for Londoners."

The spokesman said the government realised the concerns of those affected by the route.

"That is why - when confirming her decision to proceed with the scheme - the transport secretary announced a package of new measures to help those affected, including simplifying the statutory blight process and a refreshed compensation scheme.

"Those people potentially affected by HS2 will have the opportunity to have their say when we launch a consultation on these issues later in the spring."

Travelling at speeds of up to 250mph, passengers will be able to commute from Birmingham to London in 49 minutes. Currently it takeas about 90 minutes.

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