The Government has put the onus on councils to maximise HS2 regeneration opportunities, after scrapping powers that could have seen it purchase land for development.
The Department for Transport (DfT) has confirmed it will not restore the compulsory purchase powers to the HS2 Phase One Bill, after the powers were deleted from the legisation by the House of Lords Select Committee.
Lords had criticised mooted powers that would allow the transport secretary to acquire land if they consider ‘that the construction or operation of Phase One of High Speed 2 gives rise to the opportunity for regeneration or development of any land’.
The committee said it would not be ‘sound law-making to create wide powers permitting the expropriation of private property’ on the basis of an undertaking from the transport secretary that they would only be used as a last resort.
Agreeing not to reintroduce the power, the DfT said: ‘The onus must therefore lie with local authorities to ensure that opportunities for regeneration arising from Phase One of HS2 are not missed due to any failure to use their own similar powers under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 or to work collaboratively across boundaries.’
Separately, DfT permanent secretary Philip Rutnam has acknowledged that controlling costs of the HS2 project will be ‘challenging’.
In a letter to the Commons Public Accounts Committee he also said that cost estimates for Phase 2b of the project - from Crewe to Manchester and the West Midlands to Leeds – will not be clear until 2019.
Mr Rutnam said DfT officials ‘expect HS2 Ltd will be able to take advantage of experience and learn lessons from the Phase One and Phase 2a processes’.