HS2 West Midlands to Leeds (Lots 1 & 2)
The Hybrid Bill for HS2 Phase 1 (London to Birmingham) had come under criticism at committee stage over the manner of the project’s engagement with landowners. In some circumstances, there had been a lack of communication with landowners and tenants with regard to safeguarding, access licence agreements and compensation. To address this, HS2 commissioned us alongside Arup to develop an engagement strategy which would support the land access and survey teams.
Key project information
- The design development of HS2 Phase 2b required gaining access agreements from several thousand landowners along the proposed route in order for surveys to be carried out
- While post Royal Assent, HS2 had Section 54/55 powers (warranting). Understandably this was not a preferred route to gaining access and so a communications strategy with various escalation levels was developed to help convert landowners
- In addition to gaining licence agreements there was a requirement to make contact with all affected landowners and for these contacts to be data captured for the Book of Reference
- During the design process, there were several major reroutes which required an accelerated process for agreements
How we assisted
Working with Arup, we developed an engagement strategy and associated escalation procedures which supported the project’s key milestones with communications activities targeting both directly and indirectly affected audiences. The former was to facilitate access licences and the required agreements while the latter helped identify unregistered land and communicate survey impacts.
Working with the Area Managers we also co-ordinated all activity against activity targeted at the general communities. This involved correlating required land parcels with a community risk register which was based on both a simple RAG rating and a likelihood to petition factor.
At public events, we also ran a property enquiries forum which allowed landowners and land agents to discuss issues and gain further information about compensation programmes, farm impact assessments and to feed into the development process.
While Phase 2b work is still ongoing, numerous major licence agreements have been signed due to engagement actions associated with the escalation procedures. The strategy we developed was also used as a template for engagement work on other phases of the project. We also developed a mobilisation process and the subsequent project team also supported HS2 at its general public consultation events.