FOLLOWING the announcement of Highways England’s (HE) preferred route, all those likely to be affected by the proposed new road scheme should begin to ‘get their house in order’ to protect their businesses, capital assets and to both minimise the effect and put themselves in the best possible position to make compensation claims, warns Tom French, compulsory purchase expert and partner at BTF Partnership.
Tom French comments: "Whilst there are still possible variants to the preferred route ‘C; which runs east of Gravesend, north through a bored tunnel to east of Tilbury and then to the A13 at Orsett and onwards to the M25, having reviewed the Highways England Assessment Report, the scope for major alterations is unlikely. However early communication with HE is critical so that they can understand the affects of the scheme on your farms and businesses".
"It would be naive to think that just because your house is on the proposed alignment or is going to suffer with increased road noise and the view spoilt, that this would override the requirement to met the economic, environmental and transport factors of the scheme. The public consultation period only runs until 24 March and although I would strongly advise all those potentially affected to take part, it should be done with the need to ‘play smart’ and not get over emotional. It sounds harsh, but in the cold light of day, the key is to ‘manage’ this period of uncertainty and understand your position".
I am already having initial discussions with a number of farmers and business owners on both sides of the River Thames and although some might think it premature, as the scheme is identified as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure project, the process to obtain a Development Consent Order is faster as compared to seeking a compulsory purchase order. With pressure from significant development plans for new housing and employment in the area, which include London Gateway Port, Port of Tilbury, Ebbsfleet Garden City and London Paramount, the Lower Thames Crossing will happen, so don’t bury your head in the sand".
Tom’s 24 years of experience in compensation projects includes acting for land and business owners on a number of large infrastructure schemes to include a significant proportion of those affected by HS1, a consultant to the NFU on HS2, the A21 Dualling, A2/M2 widening scheme, the A2/A282 Dartford improvement, A289 Wainscott bypass and London Paramount.
Tom French concludes: "With the plans for the Thames Gateway development and with the existing crossings at breaking point, it’s not a question of if it is built, but when it’s built."