April 17 2014 Latest news:
by Paul Wright
Thursday, February 27, 2014
Camden Council has accused the state-owned company spearheading the High Speed 2 rail link of “hanging Camden out to dry” as the battle over the future of Euston station gathers pace.
The criticism came as the town hall branded HS2 Ltd’s assessment of the impact of the £50billion project on the borough as “superficial”.
A 600-page response to the HS2 Environmental Statement has been drafted by the council detailing all the alleged shortcomings in the report.
It accuses HS2 officers of using incorrect data, overlooking the threat to businesses and tourism and ignoring the “multiple effects” on neighbourhoods from 10 years of planned construction work.
Camden residents are likely to suffer more than any others in the country as a result of HS2, with current proposals leading to hundreds of homes being demolished, businesses losing their premises and thousands of residents suffering from increased traffic, noise and air pollution.
Today (Thursday) is the deadline for the public to submit concerns to the government.
Cllr Sarah Hayward, leader of Camden Council, urged residents to make their voices heard, saying: “The multiple deficiencies we have uncovered in the Environmental Statement are particularly serious given that Camden faces a decade of blight.
“We are also particularly concerned about the devastating impact of the proposed HS1-HS2 link [connecting HS2 services at Euston to Eurostar services at St Pancras International].
“An estimated 9,000 jobs will be lost and iconic local businesses are at risk.
“We feel HS2 Ltd and the government have hung our residents and business out to dry, ruining livelihoods in difficult economic times.”
The comments come as the future of Euston station’s future and the full impact on the borough continue to hang in the balance.
A series of “unintended” leaks has sown confusion in Camden about whether HS2 Ltd may be about to abandon the HS1-HS2 link that would run through the heart of the borough.
Under current proposals, it will run over existing railway lines from St Pancras, crossing the Camden Market area then descending into a tunnel to the east of Regent’s Park Road bridge.
With the need for multiple bridge replacements, road closures and a potentially devastating impact on market traders, the financial viability of the scheme has been questioned.
On Friday, Chancellor George Osborne waded into the issue on a visit to Hong Kong by saying he supported a “big redevelopment” of Euston.
Euston station is set to be only partly demolished and expanded, requiring the destruction of hundreds of homes – branded a “wasted opportunity for regeneration” by the council.
Architects and rail experts forming the Pan-Camden HS2 Alliance have long called for their alternative plan to be used for the proposed HS2 London terminal.
Known as the Double Deck Down (DDD) solution, the plan works within the station’s footprint and would not need any homes to be demolished.
While Camden Council originally “dragged its feet” in support of the plans, it is now said to have put aside £100,000 for an urgent panel looking into the alternative as well as others.
Five groups have been invited to form the new working group: The Euston Area Forum, Somers Town Neighbourhood Forum, The Pan-Camden HS2 Alliance, The Camden District Management Committee, and the Drummond Street Traders Association.
HS2 Ltd has also been invited to join the group but, according to organisers, it has so far declined.
Ben Ruse, HS2 spokesperson, said: “We recognise the importance of working with local authorities and community groups up and down the line.
“Over the last 6 months we have had more than 40 meetings with Camden Council and 30 with community groups.
“Over the next month we have another 11 meetings scheduled.
“The redevelopment of Euston offers a unique opportunity to deliver benefits to the local community while radically improving journeys for long-distance passengers and local commuters.
“We are still working through complex technical and operational issues and it would be premature to make decisions about Euston before the publication of the David Higgins report on the 17th March.”
Campaign groups across Camden continue to rally against the “decade of destruction” they believe is heading their way should current proposals be accepted.
On Monday the Heath and Hampstead Society joined the Hampstead Shops Campaign to deliver a petition of over 700 signatures to Number 10 Downing Street to urge the Prime Minister to consider the impact of HS2 on Hampstead.
An HS2 “walkabout” was also organised by the Camden Civic Society on Saturday giving residents a guided tour of the potential impact sites.
A borough-wide petition protesting HS2 proposals has so far attracted over 41,000 signatures.