While headline aspects of HS2 are never out of the media, here at Mayer Brown we’re working on the fine detail of the complexities of HS2, changing the way the new high-speed railway will impact on individuals and businesses.
A recent example is our work with land adjacent to Codemasters in Southam. The landowner had plans for the building of a sustainable village near to Stratford-upon-Avon, but the proposed site was earmarked for the HS2 line and construction compound. We were instructed to design and negotiate alternatives, so that the construction of the new eco-village could go ahead. Here’s what we did:
House of Lords
Mayer Brown’s experts spent the latter half of 2016 at the House of Lords in order to bring about a change to the HS2 Bill. The change we were pushing for would alter the land to be compulsory purchased, enabling the housing development to be brought forward.
A hearing at the House of Lords in September was adjourned, with the House giving Mayer Brown the ability to negotiate directly with HS2 to find a solution to what appeared to be a difficult clash of desired outcomes.
Negotiating the best route for all
We worked with leading QC, Stephen Hockman of Pump Court, to prepare and present detailed evidence on crucial decision making factors such as viability, highways, ecology, structure and noise.
As a result of our dialogue, we secured agreed assurances with HS2 to remove 90% of the land originally earmarked for HS2 back under the control of the housing developer. This means that development of the village, which will comprise some 800 dwellings, can now proceed through planning.
The assurances negotiated and agreed with HS2 were a highly unusual achievement in that there was no need to go back to the House of Lords in order to settle the matter. The way forward for the eco-village is now able to proceed through planning without further hold ups
Three way benefits
The result is not only a positive one for the developer: the new village will meet demand for more homes that offer sustainable living. It will be an energy neutral environment, using advanced technologies for energy and transport and providing a test-bed for further developments of this type.
HS2 also benefitted from Mayer Brown involvement. We have identified additional cost savings for the project at a multipart intersection of the railway, near to the new eco-village site. (This part of the HS2 route is the site of one of the most complex intersections of the entire route; it comprises both bored and cut-and-cover tunnels, as well as an 85m viaduct.)
Mayer Brown’s engineering expertise has been able to create a package of systems and processes that will significantly cut costs through the creation of a different structure to that originally proposed.
We thrive on creating sustainable engineering that meets requirements of seemingly conflicting aims. This recent achievement, with a movement of 90% of earmarked land back to our client, alongside cost savings for HS2 and the opportunity to create up to 800 sustainable new homes, perfectly exemplifies what we do. As the challenges of human needs for living, working and transport become ever more demanding, we’re looking forward to using our creativity and expertise to find solutions that work for everyone involved.