July 24 2014 Latest news:
by Paul Wright
Monday, May 12, 2014
The future of Euston station continues to hang in the balance amid concerns from campaigners that the interests of private developers and property speculators are winning over senior political figures.
Campaigners and architects promoting what they say is a community-backed proposal for the redesign of the proposed London terminus for High Speed 2 rail link say their plans have not been given a fair hearing, and that senior officials seem intent on a design that could “wreck” the surrounding community.
It comes as Camden Council said it would be calling for Old Oak Common – a proposed HS2 station to the north – to be used as a temporary terminus for HS2 to allow more time to be given to the design and construction of Euston.
The call follows senior ministers and officials within HS2 Ltd issuing their support for a “really big” development on the site.
Concerned over the impact it could have on the community, Camden campaigners have called for any redevelopment to be done within the existing footprint of the station, known as the Double Deck Down 2 (DDD2) design.
They claim that the lure of overseas developers to London and skyscraper-style developments has meant views of Camden residents risk being ignored – and could mean hundreds of homes and businesses being demolished.
Jeff Travers, a railway architect behind DDD2, said: “I fear there’s a hidden agenda with what is happening at Euston – and that’s a private land grab at the expense of the local community.
“It’s obviously in the interests of private developers that the land is snapped up on the cheap using compulsory purchase orders and given to them as one big slab to develop.
“And the fear is that senior political figures may have been won over by the interests of large developers. But there’s an alternative to this.
“Not only is our DDD2 station design community-backed, but it also works well within the footprint of the existing station.
“It will also allow for incremental (lower risk) development on sites surrounding the station – which is much more community focused and controlled.”
The experience of the campaigners comes as another London MP, a supporter of HS2, expressed his concerns that a similar scenario is unfolding in his constituency.
Andy Slaughter, Labour MP for Hammersmith, warned the government that his community had been “intimidated and threatened” over the regeneration of Old Oak Common station in Hammersmith and Fulham.
The station is set to be a stop on the HS2 line and the area earmarked for regeneration.
Mr Slaughter complained that original estimates over job numbers had been almost halved, and that this was an example of “another land grab”.
He pleaded for the area to be “controlled by the local people” instead.
Outside influence in Euston has been spurred by the eagerness of senior government members and the head of HS2 Ltd.
Euston landowner Sydney and London Properties has already mocked up a Euston Visionary Masterplan for Euston station – an enormous above-station redevelopment with skyscrapers and shops – as well as announced a partnership with US real estate giant Related Companies, a developer building an above-station development in New York.
Camden Council, the Greater London Authority and HS2 Ltd are all involved in talks over the future of the area.
Cllr Sarah Hayward, leader of the council, said: “I’m concerned that government ministers have a plan to use Euston as a cash cow for HS2.
“It’s too early to say whether we’re getting a fair say in the talks.
“I’d say we’re making baby steps in the right direction –but I remain sceptical.
“The plan that is agreed upon could stay with us for 100 years – so we need to get it right and make sure it benefits Camden residents.
“We need it to provide jobs and housing for local people.”