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Annual review 2022

An architect’s impression of Marston Box rail bridge over the M42

Connecting HS2’s giant land jigsaw



The scale of the land assembly task required to pave the way for construction of HS2 created the opportunity for digital innovation, with cost, time and reputational benefits.


HS2 land referencing for Phase 1 North and Phases 2a and 2b


High Speed Two (HS2) Ltd


England, UK


Land referencing, digital innovation


Working out who had an interest in which piece of land was just the start of the process, says project director Chris Simpson. “Before it could become law, we had to establish a snapshot in time of the land ownership, but owners, tenants and occupiers change daily. As it went through the legislative process, we had to refresh that data through re-referencing, and only then could we start the assembly process and contact owners whose land would be acquired, temporarily or permanently, or perhaps just for access.”

With tangles of infrastructure and buildings to negotiate, the 10km from London Euston Station to Old Oak Common in west London saw 16,000 survey notices served to landowners and occupiers. The 26.5km Country South section, which includes Euston to Old Oak Common, required more than 8000 statutory land acquisition notices. Heading out of the city, land ownership became only a little simpler. Phase 2a will connect Birmingham in the midlands to Crewe, further to the north west. Our team provided land assembly services for the 60km between Birmingham and Crewe, requiring us to contact 4400 affected parties and serve almost 4000 statutory notices to date.

Supporting the vast legislative bill

In the UK, approval for nationally significant projects is granted by parliament. The process starts with submission of a legislative bill seeking powers to construct the project. Effective land referencing is fundamental for the bill to pass smoothly into law as an act of parliament.


The scale is illustrated by Phase 1 (London to the West Midlands, almost 200km to the north west), which traverses 111 administrative areas and land owned by or of interest to tens of thousands of people. The bill took 22  months to prepare.


individual landowners identified in Phase 2a

HS2 will ultimately connect London with Glasgow and Edinburgh. Construction is under way on phases 1 and 2a.