HS2 could tear family apart, claims mother

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A Kenilworth family could see its farmhouse given sound insulation, or be rehoused while HS2 is built, as a mother fights to keep her seven children in their home.

Warwickshire autism mentor Vikie Shanks appeared before Parliament’s HS2 Select Committee on Monday to put forward a case for her family to stay in their home where they feel safe, once the high- speed rail line is built.

A widow, Mrs Shanks, who lives in Crackley Lane, 140 metres from the proposed line, explained that having to uproot her family could tear them apart - and with seven children on the autism scale and suffering from depression and anxiety, they are running out of options.

“My children all have to lose their home and I promised them that they would never have to do that,” she said.

“We have to leave because of something that has been forced on us, that we haven’t asked for, don’t want and will not use. Why should we shoulder this burden and the financial implications?

“It is not morally acceptable, We do not want to move but my children cannot cope with the noise and disruption that will be on the doorstep.

“My mental health has deteriorated significantly over the past five years because of all this stress. We should not have this responsibility on us.”

The family has spent the past five years trying to fight off plans for the high-speed line, which is currently set to go through their garden - part of which will be compulsory purchased with powers from the hybrid bill going through Parliament.

Timothy Mould, QC, representing HS2 Ltd, told the committee that work was ongoing to find a solution for the Shanks family, including proposals to insulate the house against sound to help the children cope with construction work, or for the family to be temporarily rehoused during the most disruptive works.

Speaking of the compensation packages open to Mrs Shanks, he said: “We are continuing discussions to enable the family to stay in their home and remain at the farm.

“We accept that during construction and during operation, this family and particularly the young people there, have medical conditions that mean they are sensitive to the effects of construction here.

“In cases such as this we will do all we can to meet these needs and we have a number of measures to look into.”

The committee of MPs called for more information on the talks between HS2 Ltd and the Shanks to ensure measures are being met, and in hope of reaching a solution.