John Bishop sells mansion to HS2 for nearly £7 million despite vocal opposition to project
John Bishop has sold his home to HS2 for £6.8 million, despite having been previously vocal critical of the high-speed rail project.
The Liverpudlian comedian is said to have been unable to sell the mansion, Whatcroft Hall in Northwich, Cheshire, since putting it up for sale in 2016, due to its proximity to the planned train route.
Bishop, 52, has previously called for HS2 to be scrapped, and has been an outspoken critic of the project, referring to it as ‘the great train robbery’.
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He even appeared in a video in protest of the project in 2014, voicing toy trains in Thomas the Tank Engine style, calling the conduct and the expenditure of public money on the plans ‘criminal’.
He bought the house for £2.25 million in 2011, meaning that he sold it to HS2 for £4.5 million more, though his publicist said that he had invested heavily in the 18th century, grade II listed house, which sits in 28 acres of grounds.
A spokesperson for Bishop told the BBC: “John Bishop maintains his opposition to HS2.
“He is unhappy, like many others affected by the proximity of the proposed line, that he was left with no choice but to sell his family home to HS2.
“The proposed line had rendered it unsellable on the open market – thus destroying all he and his family had worked for.”
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The spokesperson added that it had been sold to HS2 as part of its Need To Sell scheme for below market value.
According to reports, the controversial train line, which will link London and Birmingham and will cost £55 billion, will pass within 150 metres of the property.
A spokesman for HS2 said: “We have to buy land to build HS2, as well as properties impacted by the project, and we have to pay the owners what it’s worth.
“Some properties cost more than others, but in each case we are paying a price that’s fair to both homeowners and taxpayers.
“We have the budget to do this, and we are within that budget.”
HS2 will open in 2026 between London and Birmingham before being extended to Manchester and Leeds.