Philip Hine, 69, has been trying to sell his home for the last year – but has been unable to find a buyer because he lives near the proposed Birmingham to Manchester route of HS2.
His property in Minshull Vernon, Cheshire, was once worth £1.4m. Now, his estate agent has told him even a discount of £500,000 would not be enough to attract a buyer.
Even if the nearby HS2 leg is scrapped, Mr Hine said he will still not be able to sell the property because the uncertainty around the project will scare potential buyers.
He is among homeowners who have had their lives upended by a transport project that may not even go ahead. Rishi Sunak could axe the second half of HS2 as soon as this week following an £8bn increase in costs that threatens to wipe out the budget for other transport projects. Labour has refused to confirm whether it would keep or scrap it.
Mr Hine said his listed home has now been blighted by the project but HS2 Ltd, the company set up to deliver the project, is refusing to buy it. He said he is two yards away from where work for a rolling stock depot is planned, which would lead to HGVs passing by his home 1,250 times a day. The surrounding homes have been acquired.
Mr Hine said he spent £10,000 putting together an application to get it purchased by the Government but it has been rejected. Others in this area and across the country have been forced or encouraged to give up their homes.
Mr Hine and his wife are desperate to move so they can be closer to her ageing parents, who live in Kent.
“I am totally at a loss with this,” he said. “There’s no way out. I haven’t slept for six months – I’m depressed.”
‘Our family business is in limbo because of uncertain HS2’
David Germain, 55, who runs Windmill nurseries on a six acre plot outside of Knutsford, near Manchester, said initially the line was 91 metres away from his home – but was redrawn to go straight through it.
He and his family want to keep running their family business, which they have had for 32 years, but the Government wants to take the land, which includes his home, over.
“We want to hold on to our business,” he said.
“Our worry is that if it came that we got booted off and paid out, that we wouldn’t be able to find somewhere else. Our site is quite unique.”
The family are concerned that if the route is cancelled after they sell up, they will have lost their home and business for no good reason.
More than £420m has been spent on land and houses for the uncertain HS2 route between Birmingham and Manchester.
Around £2.3bn has been spent on the second section of the controversial project, with leaked documents showing £35bn could be saved if it is cancelled.
For Phase 2a, between Birmingham and Crewe, 239 properties have been bought and 11.79 sq km of land has been purchased under compulsory powers granted by legislation.
For the line between Crewe and Manchester, which is due to pass through the airport, 424 properties have been bought by HS2 Ltd under voluntary schemes.
This spending is in addition to the £164m spent on the Eastern leg of the project buying 530 properties before the Leeds route was cancelled in 2021.
Telegraph Money understands that NDAs are used in cases with sensitive commercial information and when the select committee instructs HS2 Ltd to.
This means many who have sold up won’t ever be able to speak out about the impact of the scheme on their lives.
‘Residents just want to get on with their lives’
Industry watchdog, the Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA), believes that HS2 is not deliverable in its current form.
Senior MPs including Sir Bill Cash said those living near the site had been suffering for too long.
Andrea Leadsom, said her constituency of South Northamptonshire looked like an “industrial site”,
Alexander Stafford, MP for Rother Valley on the cancelled route to Leeds, told Telegraph Money that the railway scheme should be “cancelled entirely”.
“For too long has the threat of compulsory purchase, on the scale we can see in these figures, hung over my constituents like Damocles’ sword.”
He said: “I begged the Minister to announce what we all know is already the case, that no new track will be laid, and I hope that these figures will only help to encourage him in this endeavour.”
Rotherham councillor Chris Read said many of the purchased properties had been let out to temporary tenants, leaving communities on the cancelled high-speed line in a “transitory state”.
“Our residents in affected communities just want the cloud to be lifted from them so they can get on with their lives.”
Henri Murison, chief executive of Northern Powerhouse Rail, said: “It’s nowhere near the full £2.2bn that’s been spent. It means a lot of the costs incurred by the Government are not recoverable. There would be a cost of disposing of these assets.
“We are still very hopeful that it won’t come to that, but it is another almighty mess.”
A Government spokesman said: “The HS2 project is already well underway, and our focus remains on delivering it.”