By Daniel Hunter

The proposed HS2 route between London and the West Midlands has been protected from future development which might conflict with the planned high speed line, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has announced.

The move - an important step in taking the scheme from the drawing board to construction - is known as 'safeguarding'.

It will also enable people living near the proposed HS2 route from London to the West Midlands to approach the government to buy their property under statutory Blight procedures. Successful applicants will receive the unblighted open market value of their property, plus 10% up to £47,000 and moving costs.

"HS2 is moving from the drawing board towards construction. Safeguarding is an important milestone for homeowners and for planning purposes. It shows we are determined to deliver this once-in-a generation opportunity to drive growth, generate jobs, and secure our country's future prosperity," Patrick McLoughlin said.

"I understand the distress of those who live along the line of route and can assure people that we will process claims to purchase their property swiftly so that those who qualify can move as quickly as possible.

"In the meantime we will also continue purchasing properties of those in exceptional hardship ahead of consulting on a comprehensive package of long term discretionary compensation measures."

Currently the only mechanism through which the government is buying properties on or near the HS2 route is through the Exceptional Hardship Scheme (EHS) for owner occupiers who can demonstrate that they have an urgent need to sell.

From yesterday (Tuesday), owner occupiers within the safeguarded area - typically a corridor 120 metres wide - can now serve a Blight Notice on the government asking that their home be purchased from them.

The government wants to introduce a full compensation scheme that is more generous than the law requires and will be re-consulting on a package shortly. In the meantime the EHS scheme will continue - alongside the statutory Blight procedures announced this week.

Safeguarding also protects the line of route from construction that conflicts with the Government's plans for the railway, allowing HS2 to be built with less disruption and cost.

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