HS2 boss calls for rail link threatening Camden markets to be axed

06:00 17 March 2014

Chairman of HS2 Ltd Sir David Higgins. Picture: David Parry

Chairman of HS2 Ltd Sir David Higgins. Picture: David Parry

PA Wire/Press Association Images

The new head of the High Speed Rail 2 project has urged parliament to axe a controversial link set to run through Camden Town and instead focus on a major redevelopment of Euston station.

Sir David Higgins, the former chief executive of National Rail who joined HS2 Ltd in January, branded proposals for the much maligned HS1-HS2 link as “sub-standard” and insisted the government not miss out on a “unique opportunity [to] transform and regenerate Euston”.

He has also warned MPs against spending too much time debating the HS2 Bill currently making its way through parliament, and insisted he was aware of the “financial, physical and emotional” price of HS2 for communities and individuals.

The HS1-HS2 link Sir David wants axed was set to run over Camden Town and connect the proposed HS2 rail link with the Eurostar service at St Pancras.

Several iconic bridges would have been demolished and 10 years of major construction involving hundreds of HGVs would likely cause a significant rise in noise and air pollution.

Many businesses also feared its construction would plunge large areas of Camden Town into a “decade of disruption”– with trading groups warning that 9,000 jobs would be lost and that the world-famous Camden markets could see stall-owners closing or leaving.

The £700million section of the route is now deemed by Sir David as non-essential, with the boss even admitting its construction would disrupt and compromise existing rail services.

He said: “The HS2 platforms at Euston will be a short distance from those at HS1, and one stop on the Underground.

“That is the equivalent of transferring from one terminal to another at Heathrow.

“I believe the Government should, therefore, consider whether the cost – at around £700 million – is good value or whether it would be better to consider an alternative, which would deliver the benefits of a link without compromising existing services.”

The recommendations – made known in an 18 page report authored by Sir David and published from Manchester today – represent only a partial victory for the tens of thousands who rallied against proposals set to affect Camden.

Even if Sir David’s calls are supported by MPs, hundreds of homes and businesses in Camden will still face demolition and many areas of the borough will feel the effect of 10 years of construction.

This includes road closures, the construction of ventilation shafts in Adelaide Road and South Hampstead, and the impact of hundreds of HGVs travelling throughout the borough.

Campaigners will also be dismayed to see that calls for HS2 trains to stop further north at Old Oak Common have received no mention in the report, nor have calls to prevent the demolition of hundreds of homes by redeveloping Euston station within its existing footprint.

Plans prior to Sir David’s report would have seen the proposed London terminal for HS2 only partially rebuilt and widened to the west.

Said to be inspired by the major redevelopments of King’s Cross and St Pancras, the HS2 boss is instead backing a bigger development of Euston station using a “level-deck” design with “considerable over-site development [combining] housing, retail and commercial development”.

It comes after Chancellor Osborne made similar calls last month – himself inspired by stations he saw while on a visit to Hong Kong.

Sir David said: “At Euston, the proposed solution is, again, technically feasible.

“However, as the Chancellor has observed, the real question is whether it is ambitious enough.

“Does it meet the principles of standing the test of time and acting as a catalyst for change in helping to regenerate the local area? Does it deliver the best value to both the local area and the national economy?

“The developments at St Pancras, and now King’s Cross, have demonstrated how a strategic approach can not only deliver an integrated transport hub and better facilities, but also transform and regenerate the local area.

“We believe there is a unique opportunity to do the same at Euston.”

The urge to keep costs down and invite private investment into Euston is leading both the council and campaigners to ask to be invited into the process deciding the future of the station.

They fear a private “land-grab” would leave Camden residents suffering the construction process but not profiting from jobs or housing.

“We don’t think they’ve properly approached plans for Euston,” said leader of Camden Council Sarah Hayward.

“We want them to properly consider plans that use the station’s existing footprint.

“We also need to make sure Camden is getting the best deal out of this – that includes jobs for locals.

“Sir David’s report is potentially good news for Camden Town but still devastating for the rest of the borough.

“It’s important to point out, however, that what Higgins suggests isn’t a done deal – he doesn’t make the final decision, parliament does.”

While insiders within HS2 Ltd are confident they will receive the backing of all three parties for the HS2 Bill - and for Sir David’s recommendations - there is sign of some discontent among both backbenchers and senior politicians.

Senior Labour figures have been particularly concerned about the £50bn budget for the transport project, afraid it might get out of control.

Aware of the high levels of opposition felt among communities lying along the proposed HS2 route, Sir David said he would not be cutting back on “mitigation measures” nor compensation.

“I am conscious of the price – financial, physical and emotional – that HS2 will demand from the country, from communities and from individuals.

“That is why I have rejected any thought that the project should cut back on planned mitigation measures, whether noise or environmental.

“Those will continue. It is also why I support the Government’s proposed approach to property compensation.

“We need to be clear about the impact of the project, as well as its benefits, and address the consequences of that impact, as we are.”

Related articles


Latest News Stories

Neelu Berry

An activist making claims of satanic abuse at a Hampstead church could face three new charges of witness intimidation.

Claudia Tabitha, 23, Big Issue vendor. Photo: Polly Hancock

A pregnant Big Issue vendor has been overwhelmed by generous offers of support from local parents.

Yesterday, 15:00
Hornsey Town Hall Appreciation Society members. From left Amanda Carrara, Chris Currer, Mark Afford, Miriam Levin and Dave Winskill.

The fight for community ownership of Hornsey Town Hall continues, even though the council officially invited bids from developers last week.

Yesterday, 08:00
Expedition 45 Commander SCOTT KELLY took this selfie photograph during a 7-hour and 16-minute spacewalk. This was the first spacewalk for both Kelly and Flight Engineer Kjell Lindgren; the two will venture outside the International Space Station for the second time on next Friday. Kelly becomes the U.S. astronaut who has lived in space the longest during a single U.S. spaceflight, and on Monday, Nov. 2, the crew celebrates the 15th year of a continuous human presence in space aboard the station. (Credit Image: © NASA/ZUMA Wire)

Young gardeners are preparing for a close encounter of the herbaceous kind when they attempt to grow seeds from outer space.

Yesterday, 08:00
Keir Starmer arrives with his wife Victoria at the election count. Picture: Polly Hancock

It’s been six months since Sir Keir Starmer won the safe Labour seat of Holborn and St Pancras by a huge majority.

Saturday, November 28, 2015
Volunteers plant a new herbaceous border to mark Waterlow Park's 125th anniversary. Picture: Polly Hancock

Volunteers armed with gardening forks and spades replanted a herbaceous border to mark a Highgate park’s 125th anniversary.

Saturday, November 28, 2015
Bridget Cherry pictured at Hornsey Tower

Bridget Cherry's book, Ivy-Mantled Tower A History of the Church and Churchyard of St Mary Hornsey has been published by The Hornsey Historical Soc. Picture: Nigel Sutton

In telling the story of a long-vanished parish church, architectural historian Bridget Cherry has delved into the heart of what was once Hornsey village.

Saturday, November 28, 2015
Paul Young, 18, who won the Personal Journey award and was named Inspirational Young Person of the Year at the Camden Youth Awards. Picture: Dieter Perry

Paul Young struggled to cope after suffering mental health problems, being bullied at school, and having to care for his unwell mother.

Most read news

Property Newsletter Sign-up

Get the latest North London property news and features straight to your inbox with our regular newsletter

I am also happy to receive other emails...
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot


Nike Trainers

Nike’s motto is ‘to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.’ With this in mind it’s no surprise why Nike is the preferred training gear for most A-list athletes. Get an extra boost in your run or height in your jump with £500 to spend on Nike trainers.

MAC Makeup

MAC are renowned for their flawless, fabulous make up that is used worldwide by the stars. You too can have the chance to have the perfect makeup to suit your needs with £1,000 to spend on all the glam goodies you like!

Digital Edition

Read the Hampstead & Highgate Express e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24

Local business directory

Our trusted business finder