The Government have announced that the Lower Thames Crossing, a new road and underground crossing connecting Essex and Kent, has been given the go ahead. The project is the first underground crossing of the Thames since the QE2 bridge opened 1991 and will offer improved journeys, new connections and network reliability.
Whilst many have welcomed the development as long overdue and a positive for the areas of Dartford, Tilbury in Essex and Gravesend in Kent, those living in the path of the proposed development may feel otherwise.
What is being done?
The redevelopment consists of: –
- A bored tunnel crossing under the River Thames east of Gravesend and Tilbury (Location C)
- A new road north of the river which will join the M25 between junctions 29 and 30 (Route 3)
- A new road south of the river which will join the A2 east of Gravesend (the Western Southern Link)
Why is it bad for homeowners?
A major development of this nature carries multiple concerns for homeowners in the area.
This means Parliament has granted the highway authority the power to purchase land to carry out the infrastructure improvements.
There are a number of types of compensation a homeowner can claim when presented with a compulsory purchase order the most common being: –
- A claim of the market value of the land ignoring the effect of the scheme.
- Disturbance compensation for cost incurred in leaving the property.
- If you own remaining land you can claim for the depreciation of it due to being separated from the previous land mass.
- Injurious affection where the road itself reduces the value of remaining land.
- Home loss payment in recognition of the inconvenience caused.
- Basic loss payment to ease the financial difficulties caused although a maximum amount is set by the government.
Homeowners surrounding a new development may have a pressing need to sell a property and can only do so at a significant loss because of the scheme. The developer has no obligation to pay any compensation in this instance but Parliament does grant them the ability to purchase the property under several sections from the Highways Act 1980.
Like the above, blight is when the value of a property reduces because of a major development or regeneration scheme. Under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, the developer has the legislative power to buy blighted homes for the unaffected market value – what it would be worth on an unaffected market. Blight can either be statutory where a property is directly impacted, or off-line where no land is required but a depreciation in value is still seen.
Great news that the government have given the go ahead on a new crossing east of the capital and one that is sorely needed as anyone living in and around the Dartford Crossing will tell you.
However, the result on the ground is that it will not only cause severe disruption during the construction process but swathes of homeowners on both sides of the river could be essentially turfed out as a result.
We’ve seen the uproar around the Heathrow expansion with those in the demolition zone for the new runway receiving inadequate compensation. This overarching feeling of making do for the greater good is all well and good, but the Highway Agency and the Government must realise that we are talking about the severe disruption of real people’s lives.
Yes, they have a comprehensive compensation policy in place and this, in parts, accounts for the current market value of a property before the disruption depreciates its worth. What it does not account for is the potential future increase as a result of the regeneration scheme.
The current average house prices in Thurrock and Gravesham are around £262,000 and £273,000 respectively. But the potential increase in house price due to this new crossing and regeneration of both areas could be substantial. So those being forced from the area are essentially forfeiting this increase and this should also be considered within the compensation calculations.
For those that feel they haven’t been appropriately compensated, I would suggest a class action legal challenge as it is frankly outrageous if they aren’t recompensed adequately.”Russell Quirk