A tunnel beneath the River Thames has been announced by the Government, linking Gravesend, Kent with Tilbury, Essex. We look at the impact on local properties and blight. The planned route set out by the Government will run from the M25 near North Ockendon, cross the A13 at Orsett before crossing under the Thames east of Tilbury and Gravesend.
A public consultation about the crossing commenced in January 2016, with Highways England favouring the chosen route. A red-line boundary map highlighting the exact areas in which the new trunk road will be placed can be viewed here (via Highways England website).
However, opponents raised objections to the fact it would cut through greenbelt land, its proximity to schools and the fact that neighbouring properties in Essex and Kent would be blighted by the development.
Highways England rejected a shortlisted option to build a bridge or tunnel next to the existing Dartford Crossing and said the chosen route would reduce pressure on the Dartford Crossing whilst also offering a shorter route to and from the Port of Dover and the Channel Tunnel – sure to be favoured with articulated lorry drivers.
It is estimated that up to 77,000 vehicles would use the new road link each day in its first year, which now raises fears for the local Essex community that their properties will be blighted as a result of this development.
Blight is when the value of a property is reduced as a result of major public works, such as new trunk road proposals or improvements. It makes it difficult for homeowners in the local area to sell their properties at the current market value; as a result, they often have to sell at a much lower price.
Highways England is a government-owned company and was set up to look after England’s motorways and major A-roads. Under the Town and Country Act 1990, the company has legislative powers to purchase blighted land, allowing home and landowners to sell their property to them at market value.
Their online information booklet, ‘Your property and blight’ provides guidance to homeowners on what to do if their property will be blighted by a major new trunk road such as the Lower Thames Crossing. It is also relevant to commercial property owners and tenants of certain business premises as well as owners and occupiers of agricultural units.
If your property is already on the market for sale, then you may find that you are unable to now sell the property at market value. We are able to assist if your estate agent advises you that the sale of your property is affected by the Lower Thames Crossing.
If your property is not currently on the market, but you are nonetheless concerned by the affect of the Lower Thames Crossing on the value of your property, it is recommended in the first instance to seek advice from a chartered surveyor in your local area to determine if your property will indeed be blighted as a result of the new road. Here at Pinney Talfourd we work closely with a number of local agencies and are happy to contact them on your behalf to ensure that you achieve the most favourable outcome. If you’d like expert legal advice on this matter, please contact Julien Pritchard or Stephen Eccles in the first instance, or contact us via email.
This article is only intended to provide a general summary and does not constitute legal advice. Specific legal advice should be taken on each individual matter. This article is based on the law as of April 2017.