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Developers making a profit by 'exploiting' land to the detriment of our community

PUBLISHED: 12:30 21 March 2019

Archant

What we see at Camden Civic Society through reading the planning requests sent to our local government is profit to the rich at the expense of ordinary people.

Take High Speed Two (HS2) as the most obvious example of a major infrastructure project in our borough, though there are many buildings being constructed in the relentless drive to squeeze more profit from the inner city.

For example, there was no mention of the complete closure of Hampstead Road and use of Harrington Street as a construction haul road in the original HS2 environmental statement received by Parliament, yet HS2 plans to do those two things without any reconsideration of impact. So hundreds of residents will have dust and pollution on their tiny residential road, and thousands will lose access to bus stops and transport to shops and medical appointments.

The same agenda items recur unresolved at HS2 engagement quarterly meetings.

It is easy to see how the cost of additional pollution worsening the health and development of local residents is passed on to the National Health Service, rather than met within the cost of the project through mitigation measures.

It is no wonder the residents of the Regents Park Estate feel besieged with road closures imprisoning them in a construction site, and their green spaces gone to new build and construction compounds and knife crime and drug abuse rising. Children struggle through dangerous traffic and poor air quality to school, and this will go on for decades. Not only are the people around Drummond Street caught in traffic gridlock with every access route closed, they also receive as do all residents and businesses around Euston Station “pre-demolition survey” letters from HS2 to keep them awake at night with worry in addition to construction noise.

The exhumation of 45,000 bodies from St James Gardens, now renamed an “archeological dig”, proceeds under a giant tent. This was said to protect the decency of disinterment from prying public eyes, yet the media are allowed in to film the works and show them on national television. With all the St James Gardens trees cut down together with many felled in west Euston Square Gardens for the temporary taxi rank, and mains water works, it is no wonder that the ground water level is rising – over a meter in the lowest point of St Pancras crypt in Euston Road. What does that mean for north London?

The well being and happiness of the people who live and work and travel through Camden is also at risk from the austerity that informs our economy. With benefits frozen since 2008 and insufficient affordable public housing, a whole massive section of society is cut off from the prosperity that should flow from the United Kingdom being the fifth or sixth richest country in the world.

This is just not fair. No one wants children going hungry to school, nor the health of the nation impacted by air pollution, and future generations facing drowning in plastic. At Euston Foodbank – euston.foodbank.org.uk – we have seen a 67 per cent rise in recourse to foodbanks for basic food items. Universal Credit leaves people without any income for five weeks – they cannot live on air, however rich in pollutants.

Whatever happens about Brexit, you can be sure the poor will be poorer and the developers will keep making a profit from exploiting land that was previously public owned.

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