House prices 'dropped like a stone'
More residents whose homes have decreased in value because of the proximity of the South Devon Highway will finally receive compensation payments.
Devon County Council’s ruling cabinet approved a £5 million fund this week, which will also go towards outstanding payments from the road’s construction, including surveys and contract commitments.
The £110 million expressway opened in December 2015, linking Torquay with Newton Abbot and bypassing the village of Kingskerswell. It has eased congestion between the towns and ended the misery – of both residents and drivers – caused by congestion at Kingskerswell.
Data from earlier in the year also found that, since opening, levels of pollution in the village have dropped ‘like a stone’. Previously, it had been so bad that it was designated as an air quality management area requiring statutory monitoring of pollution.
However, many homes near the South Devon highway have dropped in value and are therefore eligible for compensation under the Land Compensation Act 1973. Homeowners were told they would receive their claims within five years of the road opening, but almost six years on some are still waiting.
The pandemic is to blame, at least in part. A reduction in traffic caused by lockdowns and more people working from home meant accurate noise measurements couldn’t be carried out.
Last year, leader of Devon County Council John Hart admitted that while some payments had been made, progress for others had been slower than hoped – partly due to the pandemic which also meant some meetings were postponed.
Councillors had previously been told that more than 800 residents initially submitted claims, but only 270 were eligible for part one – defined as compensation if the value of property “goes down because of pollution or disturbance from the use of a new or altered road.”
Providing an update, a Devon County Council spokesman said: “To date we have agreed 78 part one claims of varying value.
“With new claims continuing to be received and negotiations ongoing, it’s not possible at this stage to confirm the number of valid claims. However we can confirm that we are progressing with further offers and negotiations with agents.”
At the cabinet meeting, Cllr Hart was told that the £5 million fund includes money for land compensation and that payments are now being made to residents.