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.
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?”