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BR refuses to buy back 15 homes near tunnel rail link

HOMEOWNERS on the Bluebell estate, due to be within 300 metres of the Channel tunnel rail link in Kent, accused British Rail yesterday of breaking its promise to buy back their houses if the line came close.

BR says that 300 metres is not near enough for its pledge to repurchase the homes to be activated.

Most of the 15 owners bought their homes from BR last year after receiving assurances that plans to build the link through the Boxley valley had been scrapped.

BR bought virtually the whole estate of 60 houses from the developers when the link route was first discussed in 1988. It put them on the market in 1992 when it was thought the line would go elsewhere.

Last July, when route options were re-examined, residents were given written assurances that the properties would be bought back if the decision was changed.

But within 30 minutes of the formal announcement of the route last week, residents received letters from the British Rail Property Board, saying that the route was not coming close enough to necessitate the buy- back arrangements.

BR was unapologetic about its decision not to buy the estate for a second time and said it was too early to be talking about compensation. Noise barriers would be constructed.