HS2 is to spend millions buying dozens of empty homes on a new Yorkshire housing estate its planned high-speed rail line is due to run through, it can be revealed.
An agreement has been reached in principle for HS2 to purchase 30 houses and 16 vacant plots of land on the Shimmer Estate in Mexborough.
HS2 said the details of the financial agreement is commercially sensitive. But house prices on the estate are advertised as starting at £99,995 for a two-bedroom property.
The agreement is designed to allow construction work on the housing estate, which was first established in 2012, to be completed.
When plans for the HS2 route to run through the estate were first announced, Strata said it had completed 166 homes on the estate but 46 – the same number that HS2 has now agreed to purchase – were still outstanding.
A letter sent to residents in October 2016 by Strata and seen by The Yorkshire Post said at that stage HS2 intended to buy 15 partially-built properties on the estate with an intention to rent them out.
HS2 has previously said it expects only 16 ‘direct property impacts’ on the Shimmer estate where homes will have to be demolished.
Doncaster councillor Sean Gibbons said while it is positive for residents that the estate will be completed, news of the planned house-purchase deal indicates how the costs of HS2 are increasing.
“HS2 are going to be owning almost a quarter of the estate, with all the uncertainty around it. How are you going to attract people into an area that is basically going to be demolished?”
An HS2 spokeswoman said: “HS2 is committed to working with Strata to ensure that the Shimmer estate is completed to a good standard. The basis of an agreement has now been reached with the developer for the purchase of 30 houses and 16 vacant plots. Discussions are ongoing to finalise the arrangements and to agree timescales for completion of the development.”
She added: “HS2 will deliver major benefits to the Yorkshire region.
“It is a once in a lifetime opportunity to dramatically improve journeys between the Midlands and the North, and London, boosting capacity, improving connectivity and helping to rebalance the national economy.
“It is also becoming integral to local plans to drive business growth, create jobs and secure investment years before it arrives.”
'We understand frustrations'
Housing developer Strata says it understands the frustrations of residents living on its unfinished Shimmer estate as talks continue with HS2.
Andrew Weaver, chief executive of Strata, said: “We can confirm that discussions with HS2 are ongoing and that we are progressing towards formalising the details and timescales in relation to the Shimmer estate.
“Throughout this process our residents have been our priority and this continues to be the case. We do understand their frustrations and want to make it clear that we are working towards a resolution and will keep them informed with any updates.”