Sunday, October 20, 2013

'Well, you could go and live in caravans': bulldozed

Families whose houses are to be demolished to make way for the government's controversial high speed HS2 rail link are outraged after being told they could live in mobile homes.Residents of the picturesque hamlet of Weeford in Staffordshire were stunned when a senior property acquisitions manager told them 'You could live in caravans' at a meeting between villagers and HS2 Limited.Their village has been earmarked for demolition to make way for the EUR43 billion route meaning dozens of residents living on green belt land could have their homes reduced to rubble.Residents of Weeford, in Staffordshire, which will be razed to make way for HS2, were told to live in caravansAccountant Jonathan Loescher is furious at being told to live in a caravan by an HS2 representativePlanned route: The black line shows how HS2 would dissect the village'Am I supposed to run my accountancy business from a caravan with my sheep and ducks?', Mr Loescher saidStunning countryside: The high-speed rail link will go past the pretty hamlet of Weeford in StaffordshireVillagers had said they wanted to remain living together as a community, replicating their village elsewhere in the area.But for that to happen they needed all 12 of the homes to be demolished, so they could obtain planning permission to build in a green belt area.This summer HS2 Ltd committed to demolishing all of the houses, clearing the way for the community to approach Lichfield District Council for planning permission for replacement homesHowever the rail company has now stalled, telling anxious residents they may have to wait at least three years before a final decision will be made.

More...And at a meeting on Friday, the suggestion was put to villagers that they could live in caravans until then.Today locals living in the hamlet, where the average price of a property is EUR600,000, reacted with anger to the suggestion made at Friday's meeting that they should live in caravans.Accountant and smallholder Jonathan Loescher, who lives in a detached house in the village near Tamworth, said: 'Am I supposed to run my accountancy business from a caravan and keep my sheep, ducks, turkeys and chickens in the caravan with me?Place of worship: St Mary's Church in the hamlet will see its entire community relocated from their homesThe end is nigh: Many of the village's houses (average price EUR600,000) will be demolished for the new rail lineAround half of the hamlet's 12 homes are currently destined to be knocked down while the others will overlook the line'HS2 Ltd and the Government are completely out of touch with the problems residents affected by the scheme are going though.

'We just want to be able to get on with our lives.We have been living under the threat of demolition for four years now and we face another three years of uncertainty.'We came up with a viable plan, that is covered by law and supported by MPs and the council, but they won't go along.'Mr Loescher said HS2 had originally promised residents they would knock all the houses down so they would be able to relocate 'like for like' nearby.But he said he and other residents had now been told they might not get permission to rebuild until just before the bulldozers move in.

The father-of-two said: 'We told them we needed to move beforehand, so we can set up, build our new houses and run our lives.Villagers are outraged to have been told to move into caravans while they wait for a decision on their new homesUnsettling: Residents in the pretty Staffordshire village want to be relocated nearby as a whole community'But during the meeting they said they couldn't do that.The man from HS2 was asked what we should do and he just told us to move into caravans.'My wife went berserk. It was just ridiculous. They don't care about us, about how our lives would be ruined.'He said said villagers were fed up of the rail firm 'evading and prevaricating' when they were trying to resolve the problems caused by the proposed rail line.Weeford resident Pete Bennett, 53, said 'We have spent hours in spurious meetings and consultations with HS2 Ltd and achieved nothing because it is clear that HS2 Ltd are refusing take into account the plight of those whose homes and businesses are being destroyed by the scheme.'A spokesman for HS2 said: 'We met residents including Mr Loescher to discuss their aspirations for their village, including safeguarding their land which will enable them to apply for full compensation.

'The comment regarding living in caravans was part of a general discussion around several options for people who are relocating or in the process of building a new home.

'We remain committed to reducing to a minimum the impact of HS2 on the local community and environment in and around Hints and elsewhere.

'This will be covered in the formal Environmental Statement which will be submitted to Parliament and published for consultation alongside the hybrid bill at the end of the year.'
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