Crossrail is one of the largest infrastructure projects ever to be constructed in the UK. Costing an estimated £16bn, the scheme will connect west and east London by rail via a tunnel between Paddington and Liverpool Street stations. Last month the government announced a funding package in principle for the project. This has given the impression that the project is already a fait accompli. In fact, the Bill to authorise Crossrail is still going through Parliament and you have a final chance to consider its impact on your property and interests, and to object.

This opportunity will end in a few weeks’ time.

How do I know if I am affected?

The Bill authorises the compulsory acquisition of over 5500 parcels of land. If you are having land acquired, you (or a previous owner of your land) should have received a formal notice of the proposal either in February 2005, or at the time of one of the four additional calls on land in January, May or November 2006 or May 2007. Alternatively, the plans showing what land is proposed to be acquired can be viewed on the Crossrail website at billdocuments. crossrail.co.uk. Bircham Dyson Bell (BDB) can also check for you whether it is proposed that any of your land should be compulsorily acquired.

If you are not having land acquired compulsorily, you might still be affected by construction effects if you have property near the route. Again you can view the plans or ask BDB to check to determine this. If you are unsure about what the likely physical effects might be, we can point you in the right direction or recommend environmental consultants who can advise you.

If Crossrail passes near or under your property, then this may restrict or prevent the redevelopment of the land in the future. Acting now may protect the value of your land in the future.

What can I do about it?

The way to voice your concerns about the project is by lodging a particular form of objection known as a petition in the House of Lords during the petitioning period, expected to be at the start of next year. Doing so entitles objectors to state their cases to a committee of Peers, who will then decide whether to call for changes to the project as a result. The promoter of the project, the Secretary of State for Transport, will want to try to settle objections before an objector appears. Many of our clients have reached satisfactory and binding agreements with the promoter, where, for example, the promoter will not acquire land provided that the client allows certain construction-related activities to take place on it, or where certain measures will be taken to reduce noise, or finally where a greater flexibility is given to the client for redevelopment of the affected land.

Where negotiations were not successful, BDB has helped several clients prepare for appearances before the equivalent committee in the House of Commons, and in many such cases the committee subsequently agreed to our clients’ requests. Some of these will require a considerable amount of expenditure by the promoter, such as an additional ticket hall at Liverpool Street Station at a cost of some £37m.

What should I do now?

The opportunity to object is most likely to end in January 2008. You can find out more by getting in touch with Angus Walker on 020 7783 3441 / anguswalker@bdb-law.co.uk, who will advise you on how we would establish the effect of the Bill on your interests, petition against the Bill, negotiate with the promoter and, should it come to it, appear before the House of Lords committee.

Bircham Dyson Bell has acted for over 100 petitioners and so has the expertise and experience you need for the best chance of a favourable outcome.

Background briefing – what is Crossrail?

Although the main new infrastructure for Crossrail is a tunnel between Paddington and Liverpool Street, with stations at Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road, Farringdon/Barbican, Moorgate/Liverpool Street, Whitechapel and Isle of Dogs, Crossrail will run on existing rail lines outside the tunnel, from Maidenhead in Berkshire to Shenfield in Essex. There will also be a western spur to Heathrow Airport and an eastern spur to Abbey Wood in Bexley. Crossrail trains will be full-sized mainline trains rather than underground trains. The proposal is similar to the RER in Paris, which now has five lines.

What stage is it at?

Like the Channel Tunnel Rail Link before it (or High Speed 1, as it is called now that it has been built), Crossrail is being authorised by means of a Bill in Parliament. The type of Bill means that it is possible for individuals and organisations outside Parliament to object to it, and to have their objections considered by a committee of MPs when the Bill is in the Commons, and a committee of Peers when it is in the Lords. Although the Commons committee has completed its hearings, the Lords committee has yet to be formed, and there will be a short objection period once the Bill reaches the House of Lords, expected to be in January 2008.

What is its effect?

The positive effect of the project will of course be increased capacity for travel into and out of central London, as well as the ability to travel through London without changing trains. Those on or close to the route will also suffer negative effects, however. As well as the compulsory acquisition of so much land, there will be considerable shortterm environmental effects from construction, and long-term effects from operation of the railway, such as noise, vibration, dust, loss of open space, alterations to listed buildings and so on. Finally, the uncertainty about when and for how long construction will take may have serious effects on current or future plans to develop or redevelop land, and the positioning of the Crossrail structures may severely limit the ability to do so. The promoter of the Bill will consider proposals to reduce negative effects, if this does not affect the delivery of the project as a whole or increase its costs unacceptably.