Josh Pettitt, Reporter
Thursday, December 6, 2012
Camden Town Hall has warned the High Court that the controversial High Speed 2 rail project could cost the borough £1billion in damages as the council launched its legal challenge to derail the scheme.
Camden Council has joined 14 other local authorities in an attempt to show plans for the £34billion high-speed rail network (HS2) are legally flawed.
The first phase of the proposals would see a £16billion link built between Euston and Birmingham.
The alliance, known as 51M, is one of five legal challenges being heard to government proposals for HS2 which was given the green light in January.
In written submissions to judge Mr Justice Duncan Ouseley, council leader Cllr Sarah Hayward said at least 464 homes would be bulldozed.
She said the “close-knit” Regent’s Park Estate community would be destroyed and Drummond Street’s curry quarter would be brought to its knees for the sake of shaving half an hour from train journey times.
She wrote: “Any benefit that may arise from the creation of a second high-speed rail line from Euston cannot outweigh the destruction of a large part of our borough to achieve it.”
The Labour council leader also warned the plans had been drawn up without an Equalities Impact Assessment, making it illegal.
Acting on behalf of group 51M, Nathalie Lieven QC opened the case against the plans on Monday.
She argued there was no proper environmental assessment of the cumulative impact the construction of the line would have.
Residents in Primrose Hill and Belsize Park have raised concerns over the effect that tunnelling will have in their area with the line passing underneath.
Ms Lieven said: “It is a decision involving the purchase and demolition of hundreds of homes.
“In Camden alone between 200 and 500 dwellings are affected.”
A Department for Transport spokesman said: “HS2 will bring cities closer together, drive regeneration, tackle overcrowding and stimulate economic growth.”
He added: “The government is confident that the decisions on HS2 have been taken lawfully and fairly and it is vigorously defending these legal challenges.”
The judicial review hearing is scheduled to last for seven days, after which the judge will prepare his decision in writing. That decision will be announced next year.