Every now and again a new risk to conveyancers emerges that require a change in the way risk is managed. Examples include the development of environmental searches and also chancel enquiries. Surprisingly many conveyancers still avoid doing these searches despite warning cards and case law. Such cases can and do give rise to negligence claims.
Most conveyancers will be aware that there is a new high speed rail link being proposed to run from London to Birmingham initially. At speeds of up to 400 kph many home buyers are concerned that housing prices will be blighted, environments will be damaged and there will be years of roadworks and disruption as the new line is built.
Over 50,000 people have signed the “go petition” website and feelings are running extremely highly.
Many of these issues impact on properties a long way outside of the 200 metre radius of the Local Authority search Con 29 questions and would not be covered by the “usual” conveyancing searches.
Argyll (part of the Landmark Group) have produced a new HS2 search report costing only £15 Plus VAT to help home purchasers identify whether the property they wish to buy will or will not be impacted by the development.
Antony Turck, Managing Director for Argyll Environmental, said: “At present, local authorities have only identified properties within 200 metres of the proposed rail link as likely to be affected — but this isn’t a true representation. Homes beyond this boundary could be affected by increased noise and environmental nuisance during the construction period and beyond. This is why we search to 1000 metres from the property.
“With building works due to take eight years, even owners of homes only affected by the construction phase are likely to suffer tremendous disruption. By believing that only homes within a 200 metre radius will be affected, homeowners and prospective buyers are being misinformed and may, therefore, be purchasing properties that will potentially be negatively impacted should the new rail link go ahead.
“Furthermore, simply because a property falls within the 200 metre radius does not necessarily mean that it will be affected by HS2. Many of the segments of the rail link will be underground and will, therefore, cause little or no harm at all to the nearby properties; trains will generally not be heard above ground and our search shows this. Many homeowners may be worrying unnecessarily and even be considering selling their home due to a lack of detailed information. Equally, potential buyers may be discouraged from purchasing a particular home due to concerns that it will affected by HS2.
“It is imperative that solicitors and conveyancers urge their clients to obtain a search report which provides accurate and detailed information for their individual property, rather than relying on imprecise and general information.
“There are search reports available to solicitors but Argyll’s is the only report which gives detailed information, rather than simply stating that it is within the ‘affected zone’. Misconceptions, particularly regarding the effect of a major new infrastructure, can easily cause the property market to stagnate. With such a large area covered by HS2, it is vital this this doesn’t happen unnecessarily.”