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Residents' fears over super rail line plans

PUBLISHED: 11:23 01 April 2010 | UPDATED: 16:53 07 September 2010

RESIDENTS in some of the area's most exclusive streets have called for answers after the plans published for High Speed Two show a tunnel cutting through Swiss Cottage, Primrose Hill, West Hampstead and Maida Vale. Residents and traders in

Susanna Wilkey

RESIDENTS in some of the area's most exclusive streets have called for answers after the plans published for High Speed Two show a tunnel cutting through Swiss Cottage, Primrose Hill, West Hampstead and Maida Vale.

Residents and traders in the affected areas say they could be staring down the barrel of plummeting property prices and years of noise and disruption as well as vibrations from trains.

Earlier this month the government announced plans for the route, which will leave Euston and go underground near Delancy Street. The trains are capable of speeds of up to 250mph.

A huge tunnel will be built to run underneath Primrose Hill, Swiss Cottage, the top of Maida Vale and Queen's Park before emerging in Acton.

As revealed in the Ham&High last week, many residents found out about the plans only through a letter from a property compensation specialist offering to sell their homes

Oppidans Road resident Doro Sklair said: "I am horrified at the plans and I am really disappointed that I had to find out about them from some company and not from the government.

"People are really upset. I am horrified that it seems to be going right under my house and I can't help feeling that surely there must be a better way of doing this than putting it under residential homes.

"I am really frustrated by the lack of information. People in Primrose Hill are becoming very worried and the realisation of what it means is beginning to sink in.

"This will definitely blight the area and there are years of uncertainty ahead. It is very worrying."

Peter Darley, from the Camden Railway Heritage Trust who also lives in Oppidans Road, said: "There is a huge number of questions we want answers to. I am rather puzzled as to why the tunnel takes an S shape across north London and does not just go under the parkland.

"People do not want this in their back yards and I cannot see why it has to go through some of the most expensive, valuable and oldest properties in London.

"We need to be informed - we don't even know how deep the tunnels will be. There is a strong feeling that the area will be blighted by uncertainty over the next few years. No-one will be moving or buying."

Around 300 flats on the Regent's Park Estate also face demolition to make way for expansion of the station and the line even before it goes underground.

Richard Simpson, chairman of the Primrose Hill Conservation Group, said: "Every address in Primrose Hill is very close to this tunnel.

"Part of the problem is that it is very hard for lay people to figure out what is going on.

"It is also very worrying when the process is going to be by an act of parliament. When the act for High Speed One was introduced it was a shameful process by which people with genuine interests were prevented from being heard."

Camden Town and Primrose Hill councillor Chris Naylor, who has organised a meeting with residents on the issue, said: "It's outrageous. HS2 should be getting the message out to people affected in Camden right at the start so people know where they are and feel part of the picture - why the secrecy?

"There is no doubt we are all very concerned about noise and disruption but we do not really know where exactly the tunnelling will go or how deep it will be."

The meeting will provisionally take place at 7pm on April 14 at the Primrose Hill Community Centre.

A spokeswoman for High Speed Two said: "The environmental assessment continues to be worked on and will be published before the consultation in the autumn.

"Until then we cannot release street names and anyone who is concerned should contact our enquiry helpline if they want more information."

The multi-billion pound High Speed Two (HS2) project could create thousands of jobs and building work is expected to start in 2017 with the first trains running in 2026.


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