HS2 land and property costs now "five time over initial estimates", figures show

HS2 Stock Image
HS2 Stock Image

A Freedom of Information Response has revealed the final total for the cost of land and property on the London to Birmingham stretch would be around £5bn, five times over the original budget presented to Parliament.

In 2012, HS2 Limited estimated that land and property acquisitions would cost just £1.1bn. By 2015, the National Audit Office said that figure had spiraled to £3.3bn.

The Bucks Herald now understands this figure could now reach £4.96bn.

Other details shows that there has only been 47% of total payments made - just 745 of the 1564 payments - indicating that the process of acquiring what’s needed is demonstrating to be much harder than expected.

Whilst the original budget for land and property presented by HS2 Ltd to Parliament was £1.1bn, over £2bn has already been spent with fewer than half of the properties required having been bought.

Whilst the annual accounts of both HS2 Ltd and the DfT state that the purchase of property is specifically the responsibility of the DfT, the department replied in January saying that they did not hold the information.

The response from HS2 Ltd states that out of the 368 homes that are needed, 279 or 76% have been bought at a cost of £246.5m, but of the commercial, business and ‘other’ properties required, only 466 of the 1196 (39%) have been bought, at a cost pf £1804.5m.

Overall, 745 of the total of 1564 properties have been bought at a cost of £2,051m.

Whilst these figures would leave an estimated £78.6m still to be spent on residential properties, a forecast of £2852m would be needed to buy the rest of the land and property on Phase 1, bringing the overall total to £5bn.

Penny Gaines, chair of Stop HS2 added:

"These latest figures show just how badly HS2 Ltd underestimated the costs of buying land for building HS2. With less than half the properties bought for Phase 1, they have already blown twice the original budget.”

“HS2 is a vastly expensive white elephant, with all the signs of busting its massive budget, it's time to cancel HS2 and ensure everyone who has already had their property taken has been properly compensated. Then the Department for Transport can get on with dealing with the rail and road issues that affect millions of people across the whole country rather than enabling a few people to get to London a bit faster.”

An HS2 spokesperson said:

“The cost of the land acquisition programme reflects changes to scope, land value and parliamentary amendments that took place during the passage of the HS2 Bill in 2016.

"The NAO highlights that this is normal for a programme of HS2’s scale and complexity. The report also shows we now have a reasonable estimate of costs that we are delivering within our budget. We’re confident we’ll be able to keep doing that.”