Specialist planning solicitor, Catherine Hibbert, takes a look at the plans to expand Heathrow Airport and the options available to property and landowners.
Plans to expand Heathrow Airport by creating a third runway to the northwest of the existing airport estate are currently supported through The Airports National Policy Statement June 2018 (‘The ANPS’). Heathrow Airport Limited will in due course submit an application for a Development Consent Order to authorise the construction and use of a third runway and associated development which, if confirmed, will enable it to compulsory acquire land outside the current airport boundary, including land in the vicinity of the communities of Harmondsworth, Sipson, Poyle and Colnbrook.
The designation of the ANPS and its endorsement of this particular scheme means that qualifying owner-occupiers of residential property, small businesses or agricultural units within land identified in that document may now be eligible to serve a statutory blight notice requiring the Secretary of State for Transport to buy their property, providing they can demonstrate that they are unable to sell their property except at a substantially reduced price. If the blight notice is accepted, The Secretary of State for Transport will be obliged to buy the property for its unaffected market value plus a statutory loss payment calculated by reference to market value. Landowners will also be able to recover reasonable professional and disturbance costs associated with the sale of the existing property and the acquisition of an equivalent replacement property.
Heathrow Airport Limited also operates a discretionary purchase scheme known as the Interim Property Hardship Fund (IPHF) which enables eligible property owners who own land within a defined geographical area to sell their property to the airport authority. The IPHF scheme offers potential relief to a wider range of owner-occupiers including those who may not be eligible to benefit from the statutory blight regime referred to above. In broad terms, applicants will need to demonstrate that they:
The compensation package on offer under the IPHF scheme varies according to the exact location of the property to be acquired; the IPHF scheme itself offers a lifeline to those landowners who do not qualify under the statutory blight regime but who nonetheless need to sell up and move on to avoid hardship. The airport authority has published a guidance note which sets out the detailed criteria for the IPHF scheme and outlines the types of evidence which will be required to demonstrate compliance.
Owner occupiers of qualifying properties could also opt to enter into a contract or ‘Bond Scheme’ whereby the airport authority will commit to purchase properties at 125% of the unaffected market value (plus costs) subject to Heathrow Airport Limited confirming its intention to proceed following issue of the relevant Development Consent Order in due course.
The dedicated CPO division at Holmes and Hills has helped many landowners pursue blight notices and discretionary purchase applications on a wide range of infrastructure schemes and regeneration projects nationally. If you own property in the vicinity of Heathrow Airport which you cannot sell as a result of the airport expansion proposals, please get in touch with Holmes & Hills LLP for advice on your entitlement to relief under either the statutory blight regime or the IPHF scheme.