Aylesbury Vale family on Bottom House Farm Lane ‘exhausted’ after months of HS2 hell

A family is fighting for its future after a major government project brought months of chaos to their door resulting in such devastation to their surroundings, they are considering leaving their home of nearly ten years.
Bottom Hill FarmBottom Hill Farm
Bottom Hill Farm

Mr and Mrs Phil and Janey Wall have witnessed the land outside their family property on Bottom House Farm Lane in Chalfont St Giles transformed as HS2 installed a “temporary” haul road for the ventilation shaft.

Where once there were views of grazing horses and the River Misbourne beyond, now sits a “vast ugly embankment” and filthy construction vehicles.

The embankment is to lessen the slope where Bottom House Farm Lane meets the A413.

But the Wall family learned from HS2 that even after the earth and haul road are removed, the gradient of Bottom House Farm Lane is too steep to meet highway regulations and will need to be raised past their house.

“This means we may end up losing our view permanently and our drive will no longer meet the redesigned lane,” said Mrs Wall.

The mother of two previously stated in a public campaign the single-track lane was too sheer and recommended the haul road should instead cut across fields from the A355, ‘conserving hedgerows, avoiding the River Misbourne and assuring peace for residents’.

“Sure enough, to mitigate the gradient, making the slope less steep for the thousands and thousands of HGVs required for the vent shaft construction, HS2 decided to build the embankment opposite our house,” she said.

She said HS2 “make things up as they go along”, adding: “We suspect our property should have been in the safeguarded area and [HS2] should have compulsorily purchased it.”

Mrs Wall said HS2 “repeatedly” encouraged her family to apply for the Need to Sell scheme, under which it would buy her property. “But that is not compensation,” she said.

Adding: “HS2 does not have a good record of paying fair unblighted valuations for properties.

“We would then have to meet all the costs of moving and stamp duty on any new property we buy, so would end up taking a financial hit.”

Other horrors caused by the works include months of noise and dust, and

vibrations causing cupboards, doors, and radiators in the house to rattle “like a prolonged earthquake”, even causing Mrs Wall nausea.

She has also resorted to keeping curtains drawn because “workmen can peer into every room”.

She said her family does not qualify for noise insulation, rehousing or compensation, despite applying for HS2’s Prolonged Disturbance Compensation Scheme.

“I have recorded above 85dB immediately outside the house,” she said. “However, I believe the noise has to average above 75dB across the ten hours of their work day to exceed the ‘trigger level’.”

Mrs Wall said she has found the experience “exhausting and incredibly stressful”, adding she and her husband had devoted “hundreds of hours” campaigning. “It has been like a part-time job,” she said.

She even said it had taken a toll on her career and her mental health.

“I am utterly shocked that HS2 – a government project – can basically trash law-abiding citizens and taxpayers’ homes and not compensate them in any way,” she said.

“We are left in limbo, not knowing whether we will ever get our view back or whether our drive will be compatible with the raised lane.”

She said her home is “unsaleable”, adding “nobody in their right mind” would pay its current value.

According to Mrs Wall, a representative from the Align consortium told her family they are “in a pretty bad position”. “That ‘bad position’ is of course one which HS2 has put us in,” she added.

HS2 Limited was approached for a statement. Buckinghamshire Council declined to comment.

Related topics: