Council vows to get best deal for county from HS2 rail link

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Northamptonshire County Council has vowed to secure the best deal for the county from the HS2 rail link – as the multi-billion pound project starts going through the parliamentary process.

The county council is focusing on three main issues, which could affect the people of the county:Making sure communities in Northamptonshire receive appropriate property compensation; that existing rail service to the county are improved both during construction of HS2 and after, and that adequate mitigation is sought for communities affected as a result of HS2 being built.

Part of this work will also involve officers from Northamptonshire Highways visiting parishes in the affected area to catalogue all the potential highways impacts on the HS2 route.

Cllr Michael Clarke, county council cabinet member for transport, highways and environment, said: “The depositing of the Hybrid Bill was a very significant stage for this huge project so it seems that HS2 is now very much a reality for the people of Northamptonshire.

“There’s been a lot of talk about whether HS2 will bring benefits or not and we’ve heard opinions which are both positive and negative. However the council wants to offer practical, relevant and useful support to those who will be affected in the south west of the county.

“We are ensuring our officers will be meeting all of the parishes individually to discuss the highways impacts and how they can best be addressed.

“There is a recognition that the government will be pressing ahead with HS2 and we have a desire as a county council to deal with issues pragmatically as we want to make sure that the people of Northamptonshire are not negatively impacted.”

It is recognised that the construction and operation of major projects, or the planned acquisition of land, can have a negative effect on nearby properties, commonly known as ‘blight’.

Since the initial publication of a proposed route between London and the West Midlands the value of properties near the route has fallen considerably, owing to concerns about the impact that HS2, once completed, will have on them.

For the local community, the ongoing uncertainty and associated stagnation of the property market was their key concern, and as such the county council’s previous formal response to the consultation in January 2013 supported a property bond to restore confidence to the property market as early as possible.

The aim of the property bond is to ensure that eligible property owners do not suffer unreasonable losses because of any reductions in the market value of their properties, caused by the direct impact of the proposed development.

The deposit of the Bill is the start of the process by which Parliament will consider whether to grant the necessary powers to allow the line to be built. The first stage of the process is a consultation on the Environmental Statement which runs until January 24, 2014.

The full set of Bill documents are available to view electronically in the libraries at Brackley, Middleton Cheney and Woodford Halse, and also at County Hall in Northampton, where they will be available for the public to view during normal hours until the Bill completes its passage through Parliament. The documents can also be viewed via a link on the county council’s website.