Empty mansions in abandoned HS2 ghost village ‘taken over by squatters, dealers and religious cults’

Empty mansions in abandoned HS2 ghost village ‘taken over by squatters, dealers and religious cults’


Empty mansions in abandoned HS2 ghost village ‘taken over by squatters, dealers and religious cults’

The homes in Whitmore Heath were purchased by the government for the line that will now never be built

A HS2 ghost village in the West Midlands is full of abandoned mansions that locals say have been taken over by squatters. Whitmore Heath’s beautiful and pricey homes once made it a thriving community – but now squatters, drug dealers and even religious cults have allegedly moved in.

HS2 purchased 35 properties in the rural hamlet. The average property price was £600,000, but houses were compulsorily purchased by the government because the train line was set to pass under several multi million-pound mansions in the area.

Now that plan is in tatters – even though other parts of the line are still being built, some near Coventry, amid much local anger. PM Rishi Sunak announced at the Tory Party conference that the West Midlands to Manchester line would be scrapped.

Yet because people have moved out, remaining residents say the the empty homes are now trouble-spots with squatters living in the houses.

Edward Cavenagh-Mainwairing, 61, is the 33rd generation of his family to live in the Staffordshire village. He said three properties are now used as cannabis farms – and warned there is no longer a sense of community in the area.

Mr Cavenagh-Mainwairing said: “When you walk around the area, it’s a bit sad to see it all locked up and three houses are now used for cannabis. There was a sense of community, but now there isn’t.

“HS2 has strengthened us all together in a way – because we are all suffering from it. But hearing the news about it being scrapped made me feel numb, it’s still not a victory because it’s confirmation that it was a really bad decision.

“It should have been stopped earlier. A lot of people’s lives should have not been upset to the degree they have been.”

One security guard, who asked not to be named, said they had been hired to guard the home as squatters have previously lived there. They said they had even seen cults ‘trying to break in’ to the house.

What’s more, they said a religious group had even tried to arrest security guards. They said: “We’ve had cults trying to break in.

“They would even try and arrest you.” However, some residents actually like living in the village – and they are confident more people will return to the area.

Chris Shemilt, 65, moved there around five years ago with his wife, although he is in the process of moving away. Yet he has said he ‘doesn’t see anything wrong’ with the area.

He believes the homes bought by the government will go back on the market. Chris said: “I don’t see anything wrong with it myself.

“I think people will move back to the area, I think a lot of them were bought by the government – who bribed people to sell them.

“I suspect they will go back on the market.” Chris said the costs of HS2 were ‘way too high’ for it to have ever been completed as planned.

The financial advisor said: “As far as I’m concerned, the costs were way too high for them to do it. Quite simply – all they’ve got to do is run the train to Birmingham on the same line they’ve already got – which is quite a good line anyway.

“If they slightly improve that line, then they can go straight through to Manchester.”

Rishi Sunak has defended scrapping the Birmingham to Manchester line. He said: “We’re going to take every penny of that £36 billion and we’re going to spend it on transport across the country – on bus, on road, on rail, on all the forms of transport that you use every day.

“We’re going to deliver it far quicker so that you can see the benefits faster. We’re going to see it across more parts of our country.

“I think that is the right thing to do for the long term.”

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