The Independent London Newspaper
25th October 2014

Letters

HS2 will drum us out of business, say Drummond Street curry bosses

    Drummond Street bosses could see their businesses pulled down

    Culinary quarter close to station that will be high-speed rail hub faces an uncertain future

    Beauty business owner Rukshana Ahmed

    Published: January 19, 2012
    by DAN CARRIER

    THE businesses have been there for generations, earning themselves a global reputation as some of the first purveyors of Asian food in the UK.

    But now the families who run the numerous curry restaurants, sweet and spice shops in Drummond Street, Euston, fear their days are numbered due to government plans to railroad a new high-speed link right through their neighbourhood.

    Their homes and shops could be forced to make way for the HS2 link from Euston station to Birmingham after the £33billion project was rubber-stamped by the Department of Transport last week.

    Drummond Street earned its reputation years before places such as Brick Lane in Tower Hamlets became renowned for serving up curries – and they employ scores of staff.

    A loosely drawn red line around Euston station on an official government map shows that almost half of Drummond Street could be lost – and the rest turned into a dead end used as a temporary taxi rank, and also for heavy lorry access as the station is pulled down and rebuilt.

    Restaurateurs and other businesses claim they have been told virtually nothing by the government and remain uncertain on what levels of compensation they may be entitled to. More importantly, they say a landmark community could be decimated if the plans go ahead.

    Mohammed Salique, who runs the popular Diwama restaurant. which has been in Drummond Street for more than 40 years, said plans to rebuild the station ignore the effect it will have on thriving independent businesses in the streets that surround it.

    He said: “We get a lot of trade from people who are waiting for a train. We rely on this and when work starts it will finish us off for 10 years.”

    Harish Bagauty runs the Indian Spice Shop, the original premises that the famed Patak family, who now run a  multi-million pound food empire, started out from in the 1960s. He said: “I have been here for 25 years. They have simply said they plan to block off the road. If they do that, how will people be able to come here?”

    Redoam Pasha, of the Ravi Shankar Bhel Puri House, said: “People come here from everywhere – from Southall, Harrow and Wembley, from Manchester and Birmingham.”

    Ricky Gupta’s father set up a shop specialising in making and selling Indian sweets 30 years ago.

    He said: “They will put in double yellow lines along the road so no one will be able to park. To lose a customer is easy, to gain a customer is very hard.”

    The Town Hall’s regeneration chief, Labour councillor Sarah Hayward, vowed to carry the fight to Whitehall on behalf of the traders.

    She said: “Before any work starts we need concrete plans as to how the government will compensate people in Drummond Street for their loss of business.”

    A Department of Transport spokesman said a compensation scheme was being set up for businesses and more details would be released in the spring.

    Start again? New line ‘will force me out of business AND home’

    THE proposed rail link will slice not just through people’s homes, but for one Regent’s Park estate family, it will take out their business, too.

    Rukshana Ahmed opened B and H Beauty on the estate in November. A family business, she borrowed £30,000 to get set up from her sister. Ms Ahmed has lived in the area all her life and signed a six-year lease on the premises – now she fears she could lose everything.

    “I have lived in Silverdale for 20 years, my parents live here too, and my young son goes to his nursery school here,” she said. “We set up the business and have invested a lot of money to get started. And now we hear that all our hard work may go to waste. It is very worrying. There has simply been no communication from central government over this and, frankly, their plans are disastrous – they are going to completely wreck the community here.

    “It has come as a massive shock. Not only is there a real shortage of homes in Camden, worrying the whole family about where we will move to, but we’ll lose our livelihoods, too. It is absolutely terrible.”

    Ms Ahmed and her neighbours are still waiting to discover where they will be moved to, but she said that even if they were offered new homes and compensation for the loss of business, the effect of HS2 was hard to calculate.

    She added: “We know all our neighbours. We have grown up here, grown up together.

    “You can’t just lift a community up and plonk it down elsewhere and think it will all be OK.

    “The idea of starting all over again is very scary for everyone here, and no matter what sort of compensation they offer, how will it truly reflect the upheaval?”

    Comments

    Help spread the word about Victims of HS2!

    If you are affected please join our facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/VictimsofHS2/ we want as many photos as possible of what is being sacrificed if HS2 goes ahead!!

    What will happen to people and businesses?!!

    O my god! I did not give a thought about how the high speed link work would affect Drummond Street until I read this article. I've lived in Covent Garden since 1973 and Drummond Street has been a frequently visited place, more so during my UCL days. I have seen the area through many phases. Many people’s lives are intertwined with this Street, not just those who live there. It’s very easy to get things wrong when proper plan is not in place and when there is very little interaction with the actual people who will be affected. I urge the Government not to overlook or underestimate the effects of displacements; road closures; diversions; and disruptions of such big scale development work and hope the Government and their planners will look closely into this in order to minimise the effects on the community and businesses, and carefully see it through. People’s livelihoods are at stake here!!

    Why destroy Drummond Street?

    As a student at UCL ten years ago, Drummond Street was one of my favourite haunts - I used to go to Chutneys every Sunday for the buffet, and have tried all the restaurants. It;s my go-to place for quality Indian sweets, too. I live in Camden now and my friends and I head to Drummond St regularly for curry and nostalgia. With the economy in its current state, I can't understand why the government would want to ruin a thriving local business area. This is madness and has to be stopped.

    Save Drummond Street.

    I have enjoyed Indian food in various restaurants in Drummond Street for over fifty years. My first introduction to Indian food was a restaurant called Halal sitiated where Ambala now is. Drummond Street is unique. People come from all over London to buy their spices. People travelling in and out of Euston stop off to eat and shop for their spices in this Street. Instead of planning to destroy this amazing Street, Camden Council should be spending money to upgrade it. Hnads off Drummond Street and Regent's Park Estate. Let the authorities know we are not prepared to accept ytheir proposals.

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