- What Quintain’s legal battle over development sites at Curzon Street station
- Why Judge rules Quintain and others entitled to compensation
- What next HS2 expected to appeal the decision
HS2 could be forced to pay out significant sums in compensation to parties including Quintain after the developer won a court battle over several plots next to Curzon Street station.
A judge for the Upper Tribunal ruled that four parties, including the developer and the University of Birmingham, had the right to seek Certificates of Appropriate Alternative Development (CAADs) over several sites, which were acquired by HS2 for the new station at Curzon Street.
The CAADs are used by developers to draw up alternative proposals for sites if a major infrastructure scheme, in this case HS2, is cancelled.
Quintain and three others had submitted CAADs outlining large-scale schemes totalling nearly 6m sq ft that could be developed after HS2 had been announced, to be used in supporting planning applications if HS2 did not come forward.
However, launching an appeal against the CAADs, HS2 had argued that Quintain and the other three parties would have been in line for “excessive or unfair compensation” due to the certificates being put forward against the sites.
According to New Civil Engineer, the land was originally estimated at a value of £20m, but because of the CAADs, Quintain and the other parties could now look to claim a significantly higher sum based on any alternative development it was looking to bring forward on the site.
HS2 acquired the four-acre plot at Curzon Street around 18 months ago, but has yet to pay any of the four parties – Quintain SPV Quintain City Park Gate Birmingham Ltd; the University of Birmingham; Curzon Park Ltd; and Birmingham City University. Quintain has had an interest in the land since the early 2000s and secured a 150-year lease from Birmingham City Council in 2010.
Four sites in the spotlight
The court case relates to four proposed developments:
- City Park Gate, a Quintain development totalling 1m sq ft of mixed-use space featuring residential, a hotel, retail, student accommodation, retail, and offices
- Curzon Park, which has planning permission in place for 1.4m sq ft of offices; a further CAAD was granted last summer for a series of buildings up to 41 storeys including residential, office, education, and student accommodation uses
- Curzon Gateway, which had a CAAD for nearly 500,000 sq ft of offices, residential, and student accommodation in buildings of up to 25 storeys
- A plot owned by the university with a CAAD granted for nearly 2,300 student beds, 415,000 sq ft of offices, a hotel, a theatre, and nearly 900 homes
In his ruling, judge Martin Rodger QC said there was “considerable force” in the claimant’s answer to the Government’s claim that they would received “excessive or unfair compensation” for the land.
“The respondents’ freedom to develop their land in their own interests was taken away on the launch date of the HS2 scheme in November 2013,” he said.
“From that time until the dates between March and September 2018 when their interests were finally acquired any application for planning permission they might have made would have been determined in the shadow of the scheme.”
He added the law points to “a policy choice as to what amounts to fair compensation.”
“That choice allows each owner the full value of any planning permission which, on the statutory assumptions, could reasonably be expected to be granted on or after the valuation date. Parliament has not limited such owners to hope value alone,” the judge added.
“It cannot therefore be unintended, or unfair, that the acquiring authority may have to pay more, in aggregate, than, in aggregate, the owners would have been able to achieve for their interests in the open market.”
Following the ruling, each of the four parties will be due compensation for the sites, and if this cannot be agreed, the level of compensation will be set by the tribunal.
Under the current timescale, Curzon Street station is due to open in 2026. HS2 is expected to appeal the tribunal’s decision.
A statement from HS2 said: “This legal ruling has no direct influence on compensation payable and has simply clarified the point of law regarding the applications made.
“As with all our property acquisitions, HS2 Ltd is committed to fair and reasonable compensation, whilst safeguarding the use of public money.”
Quintain chief executive James Saunders said: “Quintain received planning consent from Birmingham City Council to develop this land in 2007. Since 2009, when the Government first announced the high speed rail link and we understood this would involve the compulsory purchase of our land, we have been waiting to enter into discussions with HS2.
“We welcome the Government’s recent decision to move forward with this important infrastructure project for the UK and we hope that the Tribunal’s decision means we can finally enter into productive and meaningful discussions with HS2.”