When Russell King discovered his house was to be affected by HS2 through Doncaster he was shocked.
But when he discovered he would not get the same compensation, for having a house where he believes he will no longer be able to live, as some of his neighbours on close-knit Pastures Court, Mexborough, he was livid.
Residents on the 18-home cul-de-sac were not sent letters when the plans were first mooted, although most properties affected in Doncaster were.
Mr King said he received an apologetic letter from from HS2 some time later explaining his property would also be affected, inviting residents on the street to meet with HS2 representatives to discuss the impact of this and our options.
At the meeting, he said he was told his property would definitely fall well within what has been called the ‘safeguarding area’, which at that time had not been formally announced, and that he would be offered the full ‘unblighted’ market value for our four bedroom townhouse, plus 10 per cent, plus any associated moving costs.
But he was furious months later when official maps of the compensation areas where released – leaving his home just 5m outside the safeguarding area.
He said: “Residents of the entire Shimmer estate have been told their properties are within the safeguarding zone, which...has been extensively extended well beyond the usual 60 metres to incorporate all the dwellings on the estate. This is despite the fact that only 16 houses on the estate actually need to be demolished, and that many of the houses are much further away from the line than ours.
“It is also very obvious that many of the Shimmer residents would not be as badly affected as ourselves, either during the long construction phase or after the line is completed. Many of the houses at the south end of the Shimmer estate are between 150 and 200 metres away from the centre of the line and will not have their views of the surrounding countryside or river obscured as we would. Nor would they have to contend with the digging of the cutting into the hillside literally on their doorsteps.”
Mr King believes it will be impossible to live in his house when work starts to build the railway, and after it starts running. He believes his house will be overshadowed by the viaduct that is being built.
He fears the work will close the entrance to Pastures Court, potentially makig his home inaccessible. He fears the levels of noise will be above safe limits.
And he understands work will be to be done on a nearby former landfill site, potentially creating toxins that will affect his home.
But he has been told all he can apply for is compensation under a scheme called the Rural Support Zone scheme. This would mean he was paid the average of three estimates of the value of his property, with no extra 10 per cent or expenses for the costs of moving.
He also fears the wave of demolitions will force up prices of housing in Mexborough, making it more difficult for those like him affected by HS2 to afford new properties.
He said: “It would be impossible to sell my house on the open market. No one would even get a mortage.”
Mr King applied for his house to he treated as an ‘atypical case’ – to be given special treatment because of his exceptional circumstances. But the application has been rejected.
He added: “The fact remains that during the years of construction our property will be pretty much uninhabitable, and after construction, if indeed it is still left standing, could be deemed uninhabitable due to excessive noise pollution. If by some miracle it is still left standing when 14 HS2 trains an hour are screaming past at over 200 mph on a huge 19m high viaduct a mere 60m away then it will be pretty much worthless and unsellable.”
Mexborough Coun Sean Gibbons, who has taken up the case, said he believed the case had been rejected because it will cost HS2 more in property compensation costs and would set a precedent for other residents on Pastures Court who are in a similar predicament He also believes it will further increase the number of proposed demolitions in Mexborough from 63 to even more.
HS2 issued a statement. It said: “We have a range of discretionary schemes in place to support homeowners who are impacted by our plans for the railway.”
“We have maintained regular contact with Mr King and outlined the property support schemes which he is eligible to apply for.”