You may have received a letter from Highways England if either:
- you are in an area that would be impacted directly by construction of the road
- you may be entitled to compensation because your property is close to the road
Land affected by construction
Within the Highways England plans, land that would be affected by construction of the road is shown within a red line 'development boundary'. Land inside this red line would either be:
- permanently affected by the crossing or roads
- temporarily affected while the construction is taking place
Land may be needed either for:
- the road itself
- protection against flooding
- construction works – for example, compounds for vehicles and materials
- taking care of the surrounding environment – for example, landscaping or tree planting
Since Highways England first announced its preferred route for the road in April 2017, the design has grown in detail, which means more land and property is now included within the red line.
What will happen to your land or property
Land within the red line boundary may be bought by voluntary or compulsory purchase.
Under law, the Lower Thames Crossing is classed as a 'Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project', which means Highways England needs a Development Consent Order (DCO) for:
- consent to build and operate the project
- the power to make compulsory purchases
The application for a DCO must be made to the Planning Inspectorate, who in turn will make a recommendation to the Secretary of State for Transport.
The Secretary of State for Transport will ultimately decide whether the DCO should be granted and whether Highways England can make compulsory purchases.
Highways England intends to make the DCO application in 2019.
No compulsory purchase orders will be issued until the Secretary of State has decided whether the DCO should be granted – on the current schedule, this will not be before 2021.
Some residents have been told that because their property is within the red line boundary, they may be able to serve a 'blight notice' on Highways England. This is a type of legal notice you can serve if you want them to buy your home so you can move away.
Your rights and options are explained at www.lowerthamescrossing.co.uk, but there is no need for you to do anything right away.
Some residents have been told that although their property is not needed for building the road, they may still able to claim compensation after the road is opened in 2027.
Under Part 1 of the Land Compensation Act 1973 you may be able to claim compensation for any fall in the value of your property due to the effects of noise, artificial lighting, changes to air quality or other factors.
You don't need to do anything at this stage except follow the steps below.
What you should do if you've received a letter
You need to fill in the Land Interest Questionnaire that came with your letter. Highways England needs this to know who owns – or has an interest in – all land and property within the boundary. It's very important that you complete the questionnaire and send it back.
You should get in touch with your mortgage provider and share the contents of your letter with them. Highways England may also have been written directly to some mortgage providers.
If you need to claim for compensation, you will need copies of title deeds and leases for your property. You could also start collecting any available information on the current market value of your property, or of properties that are comparable to yours.
You can seek legal advice from a solicitor on the issues outlined in the letter.
Contacting Highways England
When people call the Highways England helpline to ask about compensation, they are told they will get a response in 15 working days. In reality, however, all Lower Thames Crossing enquiries are directed to the project team at Highways England, and they say that they will try to respond to residents in a shorter time period.
If there are questions about matters other than compensation they have said they aim to respond as quickly as possible to each resident.