Town stands together in bid for HS2 change

Anti HS2 beacon on the railway line at Portway Farm Twyford.'110228M-A574 ENGPNL00120110103093943
Anti HS2 beacon on the railway line at Portway Farm Twyford.'110228M-A574 ENGPNL00120110103093943

Kenilworth’s homes and businesses may be in line for greater compensation from HS2 and its years of disruptive construction after the town made its case to Parliament.

Residents, councillors and business owners all made their case to the HS2 Select Committee this week in the last bid for a fairer deal along with the high speed line.

The committee stage gives everyone affected by the planned railway chance to bring forward personal cases so that as many problems as possible can be solved before the scheme progresses.

Kenilworth had its turn this week, with issues from individual homeowner payouts to screening and “total uncertainty” of work at the Crackley gap being put to MPs over three days of petitioning.

Many residents who have been unable to secure payouts for “unsellable homes” spoke out, with one describing life “living in the shadow” of HS2.

Many called for a freer scheme under which they could sell blighted homes to the Government. And many called for individual cases which did not qualify for compensation to be reconsidered.

Looking at wider issues, councillors made the call for businesses to be compensated for years of road closures set to drive away customers, and for the town to be more informed at every stage of decisions from here on in.

Town councillor George Illingworth said he felt he received a sympathetic ear from the committee when he spoke on Tuesday on road closures, construction and traffic.

“Of course we do not know the outcome but the committee was very sympathetic to residents and we feel that as a town we managed to work together to make our points.”

Cllr Illingworth raised the issue of nearly all major roads serving the town being planned for closure during years of construction - which could have a devastating effect on business.

Speaking to MPs, he said: “If the perception is that people can’t get into Kenilworth then our businesses are likely to suffer.

“We have a high number of evening trade in bars and restaurants, and even in the daytime we have a significant tourism trade to the castle which has a national if not 
international reputation.

“The message is, and must be, that Kenilworth remains open and we ask that if businesses suffer as a direct result of traffic burdens, that there is some sort of compensation.”

Resident and campaigner Jan Kenyon, whose home lies close to the proposed line, repeated calls for greater help for everyone who may suffer as a result of the project.

“There is a grossly inadequate compensation package to pub businesses and restaurants which are the lifeline of Kenilworth,” she said.

“If HS2 is going to wreck our town then we must be compensated for - or the 
efforts of all our councillors and our MP will be wasted.”

MP Jeremy Wright did not speak to the committee but was described as listening with full support during various petitioners’ cases.

It is not yet known when decisions of the committee will be made public, or what changes will be made to HS2 Ltd’s scheme as a result of petitions by Kenilworth and Burton Green residents this month.