Our response to the HS2 proposals

Transition Kentish Town has written a letter in response to the HS2 plans and their impact on Camden Town. You can send your own letter by email to the official consultation at HS2PhaseOneBillES@dialoguebydesign.com or see the consultation website here. The consultation closes on 10th February.

Dear Sir/Madam

We are residents in Kentish Town, London NW5, who form the group Transition Kentish Town – a small part of the worldwide Transition movement which started in Totnes, Devon. We want to make Kentish Town less dependent on fossil fuels, and a happier, greener, more neighbourly place to live. We believe there must be a transition to a world that uses less energy and resources, and that this must be done fairly.

We wish to comment on the HS2 Environmental Statement, which affects our area under CFA2 Camden & HS1 Link, as well as CFA1 Euston. Our urgent overall suggestion is that the HS2 project should terminate at Old Oak Common, with its link with Crossrail. This would obviate the huge disruption and damage to the borough of Camden altogether.

Here is the detail of some of our concerns about the disruption to local communities here in Camden. The Environmental Statement reads like a catalogue of disasters for our area, with little attempt at mitigation. Some of these disasters are:

The proposed loss of 188 socially rented dwellings on the Regent’s Park Estate and surrounds. This is a shocking scandal, affecting some of the most vulnerable people in our borough. What’s more, the Statement does not even seem to get the figures right – saying, in one place, 214 dwellings to be lost, and elsewhere 188 to be lost. This feels like a measure of how little the project cares about this catastrophic loss.

A remaining 50/60 dwellings on the Regent’s Park Estate will be permanently affected by noise and vibration, as will many other properties in our borough.

2 schools will be badly affected – Hawley School’s future is very uncertain; Haverstock School will be adversely affected.

4 community facilities will be lost in the area around Euston Station. Cheerful statements are made about replacement space for St James’s Gardens, for example, but what happens during the 10 or so years waiting for such replacement space? A generation of young people will be grown up in that time.

6 roads around Euston Station will be closed for up to 10 years. Do you have any idea of the consequences to an area already frequently in gridlock, and with some of the highest levels of air pollution in Europe? You can be sure that Kentish Town Road will feel a major knock-on effect with these closures, being already full to capacity.

Re: Grade II listed buildings, you state in the introduction that none will be demolished, but then mention demolition of Grade II listed 14-15 Melton Street, and partial demolition of Camden Road station’s listed facade. These anomalies within the text do nothing to inspire confidence.

Our area of Kentish Town is one of the places affected by the Overground track changes. Did you realize that the Overground line has recently settled into being one of the best used, and highly valued new means of transport in this part of London? The idea that it is to be pulled up and re-arranged so soon is really absurd. If this proposal goes ahead – which we hope it won’t – the disruption to our community in Kentish Town will be significant. Disruption, noise, and gridlock on our main artery road Kentish Town Road, not to mention the knock-on effect of other works. This is not an area waiting to be a construction site. It is a finely balanced community which will suffer seriously from the consequences listed in this Environmental Statement.

We strongly support the idea of putting the Overground link for HS2 underground. This would be an appropriate mitigation, in line with your stated policy of changes in alignment which can be made to avoid excessive problems. We have heard that the costs of such a tunnel will be only £180m. more than currently budgeted – a minor detail compared with £812m. for tunnelling in the Chilterns and £2.7bn. on other tunnels on the rest of the line.

You know it makes sense not to rip up an entire community for the sake of £180m. Please revise your plans to include such a tunnel. Best of all, please take this train to Old Oak Common only, rather than inflicting such damage on our borough.

Yours faithfully,

Transition Kentish Town

Our concerns are similar to those raised by Frank Dobson MP recently in the Camden New Journal.

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