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Bree Louise landlord left in limbo as wait for HS2 compensation goes on

Popular pub in Euston was forced to close down in January after being seized by the government for rail route work

25 May, 2018 — By Tom Foot

Craig Douglas was forced to leave the pub he had named after his daughter

A LANDLORD who saw his pub and home seized to make way for the High Speed 2 rail link has had to stop his search for a new business because he is still waiting for compensation.

Craig Douglas was forced to leave the Bree Louise pub in Cobourg Street, Euston, in January, but has been told it could be as late as the autumn before a final figure is agreed and paid. He told the New Journal that he had already endured “four months without income but the outgoings obviously don’t stop”, adding: “I hope these people lose as much sleep at night as I do.”

When he shut pub in a tearful farewell party, Mr Douglas said he was looking forward to setting up a new family-run bar as quickly as possible. He had named the pub after his daughter, Bree, who died as a baby.

“We’ve stopped looking for pubs now,” said Mr Douglas, who ran the Bree Louise with his wife Karen for 17 years. “It’s frustrating, but even if we found one we couldn’t take it on, because we don’t know what’s going on with the compensation. We could get a loan, but what if this whole thing rumbles on for years?”

Mr Douglas said he was initially told it would take 90 days from the government-sanctioned compulsory purchase order to a final agreement. But complications with submitting an application has led to a delay in the process.

HS2 Limited, a company set up by the government to manage the new £57billion rail link from Euston to Birmingham, has used compulsory purchase orders to move dozens of businesses and homes in the path of the project. It has been opposed by the council but has the support of the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats at Westminster. The works, expected to last until 2033, began before compensation deals were signed off.

Mr Douglas’s former neighbour, Ijaz Chishty, was moved out of his home of 40 years and had to abandon his Cottage Hotel, run by his family for 80 years. He also has not received any money.

Craig Douglas speaking at the pub in its final weeks

Now renting in Prince of Wales Road, Kentish Town, Mr Douglas said he still goes back to Drummond Street with his wife to see old friends who remained. “It’s soul-destroying seeing everything boarded up, it was 17 years of my life you know,” he said. “Last week I got a phone call from them asking about a load of empty barrels, asking are they mine, and do I want them. They are not even clearing the pub and it’s four months later.”

HS2 has said that the price it will pay is set by Department for Transport policy, which is to pay 100 per cent of market value of the property plus 10 per cent and the costs of moving, stamp duty and legal fees. The market value is an estimate of how much the property would be worth now if HS2 had not been given the go-ahead.

A HS2 statement said: “HS2 has a responsibility to pay compensation which is fair for homeowners, business owners and the taxpayer. Before we are able to make payment we must receive a claim for compensation, alongside supporting evidence to help us establish a value for the property. We have yet to receive a claim for this property.”

The council this week said that there would be “multiple opportunities” for residents who are facing disturbance by the scheme but have not had their homes bought by HS2 to engage on its new “prolonged disturbance” compensation scheme.

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