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HS2: Commercial Blessing or Residential Headache?

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United Kingdom  UK Economy  London  Birmingham  Manchester  Leeds  HS2  Jack Dromey  Communities and Local Government  Leicestershire  Andrew Bridgen  Conservative MP 

By - Thursday 07 February 2013

HS2: Commercial Blessing or Residential Headache?

The HS2 high-speed railway has been heralded as vital to improving the UK economy, better linking the North to the South and preparing the country for the future. While the development will no doubt support business by opening up new commercial markets, for residential property, the impact of HS2 may not be as favourable. According to a report in the Mail on Sunday, homeowners living alongside the two new lines - running from Birmingham to Manchester and to Leeds - are struggling to sell their properties. In fact, buyers are pulling out of deals and viewings were being cancelled just hours after ministers revealed details of the new route.

But just how severe will the consequences of HS2 be and will they be long term? According to one Conservative MP, the answers to these questions aren't good and people may want to hold off on property investment in these areas in the near future. Andrew Bridgen, MP for North West Leicestershire, told the newspaper: "Benefits might come after 2026 but the uncertainty and the blight for this area began with the announcement. Everyone is in limbo. It is completely unhelpful and I am baffled by the need to announce it now."

The report in Mail on Sunday also suggests a bleak picture, with homeowners faced with the choice of staying put until compensation comes through or cutting their losses and selling properties at significant discounts. In some cases, residents may even find themselves in negative equity, while potential buyers may struggle to get home loans.

However, there is an economic logic to HS2 and ensuring the UK is better connected is set to give regional businesses a boost. It will also enable London-based companies to migrate out of the capital to cheaper areas, making office investment in hubs like Leeds and Manchester an attractive prospect. Jack Dromey, shadow minister for Communities and Local Government, is just one official adamant that HS2 will deliver the economic clout needed to ensure the UK is prepared for the future. Speaking to The Information Daily, he explained that there can be no improvement for Britain as long as activity is purely centred in the south. “Britain can’t succeed if only London and the South East succeed,” he said. “If you want to see the Midlands succeed and the North succeed you need world class infrastructure.”

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