Camden campaigners warn of ‘decade of discontent’ following HS2 Bill publication

hs2 train

hs2 train - Credit: Archant

A decade of congestion, noise pollution and disruptions to businesses could be set to blight residents in Camden as planning proposals for the HS2 high-speed line went before Parliament on Monday.

Details of the £43billion rail link between London and Birmingham – claimed to be the “most ambitious” infrastructure project in the UK since the construction of the M25 – were published in a 50,000 page document said to weigh almost a tonne.

With Euston station set to be transformed into the main London terminus of the 140-mile line, surrounding residents and business owners in Euston, Camden Town and Primrose Hill are likely to bear the brunt of the colossal construction programme.

The route is set to run on upgraded existing railway lines, bridges and viaducts through Camden Town for nearly a mile until entering a new tunnel under Primrose Hill.

The project will see 226 homes in Camden demolished – including 188 social rented houses in Regent’s Park Estate – and eight overpasses knocked down or rebuilt, including the famous Camden Lock and Camden Road bridges.

A number of heritage sites will also be lost, including several listed buildings, a post-medieval burial ground in St James’s Gardens, and the war memorial in Euston Square Gardens (which is to be relocated).

Officials in charge of the project estimate more than 3,000 jobs across Euston and Camden Town could be at risk during construction, and that bars, cafes and restaurants in Chalk Farm Road could be significantly affected during work on the proposed Chalk Farm Road Bridge.

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An independent report commissioned by business group Camden Town Unlimited found the disruptions could be so extensive that Camden Market may be forced to permanently close.

With just 56 days to respond to the mammoth Bill – necessitating almost 900 pages to be read per day – campaigners and Camden council have slammed the government for not giving them enough time to respond.

“What the government has done is an absolute joke,” said leader of the council Sarah Hayward.

“We will do what we can to wade through the tens of thousands of pages but what hope do residents or business groups have of finding the time to go through all the necessary detail in time?

“Although many of the horrors affecting the borough we already knew about, some new concerns have already emerged relating to the scale of disruption.

“If HS2 does nonetheless go ahead, the specific plans for Euston are a wasted regeneration opportunity, and we are keen to work with the community to develop a credible alternative vision.”

Councillors estimate 480 homes could end up being demolished and 3,500 others directly affected by the project.

Cllr Chris Naylor, a member of the Pan-Camden HS2 Alliance and the Liberal Democrat representative for Camden Town and Primrose Hill, said: “Very sadly it looks as though the government remains hell-bent on its HS2 plan and right now the council and community need to start preparing their responses.”

A spokesman for HS2 Ltd claimed the regeneration of the Euston area would also bring “hundreds of homes and thousands of jobs” to Camden.