High Speed 2 rail link sparks Westminster homes fear

Thousands of homes could be damaged and property prices could plummet after the government gave the go-ahead for a high-speed rail link to run through north Westminster, campaigners claim.

Queen’s Park and Harrow Road residents say that the government has “totally ignored” their pleas to relocate the controversial High Speed 2 (HS2) rail link.

The project was given the green light by transport secretary Justine Greening on Tuesday.

The route will cut journey times from London to Birmingham to just 49 minutes.

But campaigners, from the Stop The Tunnel North Westminster group, say the tunnel – which will run 30 to 35 metres under thousands of homes in the area – could cause major problems for residents.

They say the government has failed to address their concerns that the line could cause property damage and blight residents’ lives during and after construction.

Stop The Tunnel spokesman Daniel Tasker said: “The government has totally ignored the public consultation.

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“We were hopeful because we thought we had a good case and they had already changed the route once to avoid Primrose Hill.

“But it would seem that the people around our area aren’t famous enough to prompt a change.

“If the government is sure it won’t affect people, then they would give us a guarantee. But they haven’t guaranteed anything.”

The first phase of the rail route is expected to be built between 2016 and 2026 – followed by onward legs to Manchester and Leeds by 2032.

Trains will travel at speeds of up to 250mph and Stop The Tunnel member Georgina Cuppaidge says the threat of construction could have a major financial impact.

“We have a tunnel being built under our houses and there may well be a risk of subsidence,” she said.

“Until the tunnel is actually built, it will be more difficult to sell our houses because of the fear of the unknown.

“Why would you buy a house if you know that a tunnel is going to be built under it?

“They can’t say whether my house is going to fall in a hole or not.”

Earlier in the year, Stop The Tunnel North Westminster delivered a 1,400-signature petition to Westminster Council.

The council say they are “strongly in favour” of the rail link, which they claim will boost some industries in the borough by 25 per cent.

Transport chief, Cllr Lee Rowley, said that he welcomed proposals but would “continue to work to secure some changes to the route to reduce its impact on Westminster residents”.