East-West Rail: Woman moved in days before demolition notice

  • Published
A houseImage source, Maria Montalto
Image caption,
Maria Montalto is renovating the whole of her home in the Poets area of Bedford

A woman was told her home could be demolished as part of the East-West Rail development just over a week after she moved in to the property.

Maria Montalto, 48, bought the house in Bedford in November and spent £40,000 on renovating what was going to be her and her partner's "forever home".

She moved in on 21 March, but nine days later was told about the risk of compulsory purchase.

East-West Rail (EWR) said the project should appear in local searches.

Image caption,
People in the Poets area of Bedford have been told their homes may be demolished

The area around Bedford station is set to be redeveloped as part of the £5bn East-West Rail project, which aims to connect Oxford and Cambridge by the end of the decade.

About 50 residents in the Poets area, including Ms Montalto, have been told they could face their houses being demolished or acquired as part of the scheme.

Ms Montalto, a deputy head teacher, said it took her three years to find the home and that nothing was flagged up on the searches prior to purchase.

"I spent £40,000 to renovate my house and on 30 March I received a letter [about the potential demolition]," she said.

"When I received the letter I cried.

"After I finished crying I called my solicitor and she said there was nothing shown anywhere and I asked her to check at that point, and there was nothing showing now either."

Ms Montalto added: "I haven't been able to sleep properly. Even when I work I'm still thinking about it."

Image source, Maria Montalto
Image caption,
The home has been rewired, a new kitchen installed and new floors and central heating added
Image source, Maria Montalto

A spokeswoman for EWR said: "The East-West Rail project would be revealed through the responses issued by the local council to 'CON29' enquiries, a standard component of property searches that conveyancers carry out before people purchase a property.

"In our consultation documents, we've highlighted potential land or search areas that may be needed if those options are taken forward to form part of the final design."

It is not the "final boundary of the land that will be acquired", and more details will come in the future, she said.

The organisation is presenting a "reasonable worst-case scenario" and no homes are currently subject to a compulsory purchase order, she added.

Image caption,
Maria Montalto said: "You cannot switch off because you hear the train all the time and that reminds you what might happen"

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