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Plans to reopen historic railway tunnels ignored by HS2 chiefs

PUBLISHED: 07:00 09 April 2012

Stationary winding tunnels off Gloucester Avenue

Stationary winding tunnels off Gloucester Avenue

Archant

Heritage campaigners have accused the government of ignoring plans to restore historic railway vaults or notice listed buildings which line the land above the proposed High Speed 2 train link.

Conservationists say High Speed 2 (HS2) officials failed to consider their detailed proposals, which they say would have brought tunnels from the country’s first rail link to London back into use.

Residents from Primrose Hill also claimed that, in a “shambolic” consultation process, HS2 chiefs did not gauge the impact the line would have on listed buildings in Park Village East dating back to 1825.

A ventilation shaft is also planned to emerge in Adelaide Road Nature Reserve.

Martin Sheppard, of the Gloucester Avenue Association, said at a meeting on Wednesday last week: “This consultation was little more than window dressing.”

Residents called on HS2 bosses to re-route the new line under existing railway land feeding into Euston, removing the threat to housing above.

Mr Sheppard put together a bid to reopen the Grade II listed winding vaults near Gloucester Avenue, which were built by engineer Robert Stephenson in 1837 as part of the historic London to Birmingham line.

“We sent in a very clear proposal but there was no correspondence, meetings and nothing was done,” said Mr Sheppard.

“So that period of consultation has been wasted and instead of any informed decision being made, it has just been a fait accompli.”

He added: “It’s difficult to think of HS2 as Machiavellian, because that would be an insult to Machiavelli.”

HS2 documents suggest that the realignment would “increase the risk of impact” on the historic tunnels and increase journey times.

Officials have recommended that any pleas for change should be rejected on the grounds that the impact of the line on homes will be “imperceptible”.

However, residents remain “cautiously optimistic” that HS2 Ltd will bow to their suggestion.

Gloucester Avenue Association is set to meet with officials next month.

A final decision on any alterations will be taken by the Secretary for Transport.

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