High Speed Two Statement – March 2014
High Speed 2
I am opposed to the proposal to bring HS2 into Euston Station. On the day this proposal was announced, I personally delivered warning leaflets to the doors of the flats threatened with demolition. I am also opposed to the proposal for a surface link from HS2 at Primrose Hill to the Channel Tunnel lines at St. Pancras.
The proposed works at Euston involve demolishing the homes of around 500 people and blighting the lives of 1,500 people who would face ten years of engineering works next to their homes. It would concrete over two thirds of St. James’ Gardens and render impossible the much-needed rebuilding of Maria Fidelis secondary school on the Starcross Street site. It would severely harm the many and varied small businesses in and around Drummond Street. The extra land to be taken over by HS2 is as big as the existing St. Pancras International Station.
The proposal to run a surface link from HS2 at Primrose Hill to St. Pancras along the route of the North London line would involve vast engineering works. These include widening the track, rebuilding embankments and replacing all the road bridges. This would require years of disruption for North London line services, for road traffic flows through Camden Town and for all the residents and businesses in the area.
So, I continue to oppose the whole project because I believe it would be a grotesque waste of money and that the benefits claimed for the scheme could be achieved at far less expense and without harm to the residents and businesses in our area.
In the meantime, I have been trying to get the Government to provide the best possible arrangements for compensation and mitigation if the scheme does go ahead. In particular, I have pressed for people whose homes are to be demolished to be provided with alternative housing which meets their needs, in our area if that is what they want, without being required to move more than once and with full security of tenure. The Government has said they will meet these requirements for Council tenants but the arrangements for ‘right to buy’ leaseholders remain totally inadequate. ‘Right to buy’ and other leaseholders would not be able to find or fund alternative housing in the locality.
The compensation arrangements for our area are vastly inferior to those proposed outside London and the impact of a decade of engineering works on people overlooking the construction sites has not been recognised.
Many small businesses will be ruined by the HS2 project. Restaurants and shops in Drummond Street depend for as much as 70 per cent of their custom on the passing trade of people going to and from Euston. They will be cut off from the station for ten years by the construction works. Yet, as things stand, they will get no compensation for their loss of trade. Businesses in Camden Town will be similarly affected.
I will continue to press for an alternative approach to the compensation of residents and businesses who will suffer. What is needed is a comprehensive and flexible compensation scheme which is tailor-made to reflect the scale, time-scale and complexity of the blight which will be inflicted on residents and businesses of our densely-populated and intensely-developed area.
In addition, if the Government persists with the HS2/HS1 link, I will continue to press for the surface works to be replaced by a tunnel. This would cost only an extra £150 million compared with the £2,700 million the Government is committed to spend on tunnelling in rural and suburban areas.
I will continue to argue for the whole scheme to be abandoned. Failing that, I will continue to press for HS2 to terminate at Old Oak Common. Failing that, I will argue in favour of the Double Deck Down design for the new station which would be within the curtilage of the existing Euston station, I will also continue to press for proper compensation and mitigation arrangements for residents and businesses in our area.
The Rt. Hon, Frank Dobson MP