HS2: Property owners affected feel ignored by HS2 officials, but communication is starting to improve

24 May 2012

An overwhelming majority of the property owners affected by the proposed high-speed rail link between London and Birmingham feel that HS2 Ltd has failed to communicate effectively with them, according to the results of a sentiment survey conducted by property consultant Knight Frank.

A poll of the firm’s clients and those signed up to receive its HS2 updates shows that 64% of the respondents believe overall communication has been “very poor”. Only 8% said they considered it even “adequate”.

However, Knight Frank’s experience is that HS2 Ltd is now starting to engage more constructively. When asked to comment on specific aspects of the scheme, compensation was the area where it was felt communication was particularly lacking – almost 80% of respondents said it had been “very poor”.

The results were better for the scheme’s route and timetable – about 25% of those completing the survey said communication regarding these areas had been “adequate”. But only 1% said it could be considered “good”.

Just 7% of people said the government or HS2 Ltd had been their most useful source of information regarding the new railway. Property consultants were the most valued source of advice (30%), while anti-HS2 campaign groups also scored highly (22%).

National and local media were each rated as the most useful by 15% of respondents.

Commenting on the survey results, James Del Mar, Head of Knight Frank’s HS2 team, said: “I am sure HS2 Ltd will be disappointed with the findings, but, having spoken to many property owners who are likely to be affected by HS2, I am not surprised by the strength of their feelings.

“Most tell me that they feel almost ignored, despite suffering the most because of HS2; not just from the upheaval that the scheme will create if it goes ahead, but from the worry and uncertainty it has caused in their lives already.

“The irony is that there is a huge amount of useful information on the websites of the Department for Transport and HS2 Ltd. However, even in this digital age, people rightly expect a far more personalised level of contact, and perhaps even a modicum of sympathy regarding something that could have a very major impact on their lives. “I think these survey results offer a valuable insight to those responsible for championing and delivering large infrastructure projects in the UK, particularly one as controversial and costly as HS2.

“The good news is that HS2 Ltd is prepared to engage with those affected, we have had numerous conversations and held a number of meetings with our clients, albeit that many of them include some of the most significant houses, farms and estates along the route. Senior members of its team have attended joint site visits with me and are willing to discuss constructively any issues raised.

“Now is the time for property owners to seek advice to take advantage of HS2 Ltd’s apparent willingness to work more closely with us, particularly as a new voluntary purchase scheme could be on the cards.”

Results of the Knight Frank HS2 Sentiment Survey

How would you rate the
government's/HS2's
communication on the
following aspects of
the scheme?
Very poor
Poor
Adequate
Good
Very good
Route
39%
35%
24%
2%
0%
The specific impact on their property
69%
24%
3%
3%
1%
Scheme timetable
37%
35%
26%
1%
1%
Consultation process
67%
19%
13%
1%
0%
Compensation entitlement and procedure
78%
18%
4%
0%
0%
Overall
64%
28%
8%
0%
0%

Who has been your most
trusted source of information
regarding HS2?
Percentage
Property consultant
30%
Action group
22%
National media
15%
Local media
15%
Government/HS2 Ltd
7%
No single source
5%
Web searches
4%
Parish Council
1%
MP
1%
Friends/neighbours
1%

 

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