Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Windfall Tax on Homes near New Transport Links

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Windfall Tax on Homes near New Transport Links

Article excerpt

Byline: BEN LEAPMAN

HOMEOWNERS whose properties rise in value when Tube or rail lines are built nearby could be clobbered with a windfall tax to help the Treasury pay the bill.

Ministers are examining the proposal to meet a shortfall in the Government's pound sterling33.5 billion plan to extend Britain's rail network. Three major London rail projects could be the first affected.

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott has commissioned property consultant Atis Real Weatheralls to weigh up the benefits. Treasury officials are reported to be examining the idea, and Mayor Ken Livingstone is understood to be in favour.

The levy could be added to council tax bills, but the money would go straight to Whitehall to help pay for the rail schemes. Businesses whose properties increase in value would also face higher rates.

Backers of the proposal point out that the pound sterling3.5 billion Jubilee line extension through Southwark and Bermondsey to Canary Wharf and Stratford brought a major boost to local property markets. Land along the route was estimated to have risen in value by four times the cost of building the new track.

Any fresh source of funding could boost the chances of the Government giving the go-ahead for the long-delayed pound sterling5 billion Crossrail line from Paddington to Stratford, through the centre of London.

Other projects which could be affected include the extension of the East London line, north through Hackney and south to Crystal Palace and Croydon, and the pound sterling1 billion upgrading of existing Thameslink services from Bedford to Brighton via London Bridge. Hundreds of thousands of householders could end up contributing to the costs.

The charges will not be imposed retrospectively, so property owners along the Jubilee line route or the Channel Tunnel rail-link line in Kent will not have to pay.

A similar mechanism was used to help fund improvements to commuter services in New York, where London's transport commissioner Bob Kiley used to run the subway. …

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