Yet another rethink over HS2 at Euston
Tulip Siddiq says rail line's approval is a 'sad day'
13 February, 2020 — By Tom Foot
THE controversial HS2 rail project will go ahead, despite further delays that will see construction in Camden go on until at least 2036 – a decade longer than planned.
The government’s announcement this week follows publication of a report by Doug Oakervee, a former chairman of HS2 appointed by prime minister Boris Johnson to lead an inquiry into the project’s ballooning costs.
It said that scrapping a section of the railway between Euston and Old Oak Common, in west London, should not happen because it would reduce the project’s revenues by up to £30billion.
Current plans to redevelop 10 million square feet of land in and around Euston were “unsatisfactory” and the report recommended yet another rethink.
A new mega-salaried HS2 director post is being created to oversee vague “new delivery arrangements” for Euston, working alongside architects and the council.
Responding, the Town Hall’s regeneration czar, Danny Beales, said: “If planned carefully, Euston has real potential to deliver significant growth that brings huge local and national benefits.”
He said the council welcomed the Oakervee recommendation to use Old Oak Common as a temporary terminus but that new designs for Euston should be delivered “promptly” to avert “unacceptable” further “suffering” of residents living near the scheme.
Camden Council has been criticised for failing to oppose HS2 outright in its evidence to the Oakervee inquiry. This week’s report said the council had been “promoting” development of the area as part of an “innovation district” known as a “Knowledge Quarter” around King’s Cross, the Euston Road and Bloomsbury.
Labour MP Tulip Siddiq said: “Today was a sad day in the long fight against HS2, a £100billion vanity project which will ruin lives locally and nationally. Shame on this government.”
The new target date for completion of the Euston project is 2036 – 27 years after the project was originally conceived by Lord Andrew Adonis, the Baron of Camden Town.
Hundreds of residents have moved out of their homes because of HS2 while replacement housing blocks have been sandwiched into green and open spaces on the Regent’s Park estate. St James’s Gardens has been demolished and dozens of businesses – including the popular Bree Louise pub – were compulsory purchased and knocked down.
Maria Fidelis secondary school has been moved and tens of thousands of human remains are being exhumed from a former cemetery. Anti-HS2 campaigners have been arguing since 2012 that the railway should stop at Old Oak Common, near Wormwood Scrubs.
Mr Oakervee’s report said Old Oak Common would make practical sense because “the time taken for passengers to reach central London locations would be similar”, but added that financially it “could reduce revenues by £20-30bn”.
Lendlease, the property investment company that is the current “masterplanner” for the Euston section of the project, has done “a substantial amount of work to maximise the land around and above Euston station”, the report added.
Stop HS2 campaign manager Joe Rukin said: “HS2 will be Boris’ big blunder, it’s a shame he can’t see that.”