The HS2 rail link could have an alarming effect on areas of Camden, including Parkway, Drummond Street, Regent's Park Estate, Euston Station and Camden Lock
Published: 10 January, 2013
by TOM FOOT
HUNDREDS of homes will be bulldozed. A secondary school will be demolished. The historic curry restaurant quarter of Drummond Street will be cut in two. A nature reserve could be concreted over. Thousands of human remains will be dug up at a burial ground.
And yet the government’s £32billion plans for a high-speed rail link through Camden do not stop there.
The New Journal today (Thursday) reveals the sheer enormity of the scheme, due to give the borough an unprecedented – and for a growing number of people an unwanted – upheaval.
Many opponents of the High Speed Two (HS2) project – a new line from Euston to Birmingham – feel that, due to the drip-drip release of information, residents across Camden have not fully realised just how big a hole will be created. One simple example: the iconic bridge at Camden Lock faces being dismantled.
What’s more, an increasing number of critics believe the people who will be affected most have had the least say.
Even some supporters of the concept of high-speed rail are alarmed at the way Camden is being asked to – or “told to”, according to opponents – stomach the biggest disruption.
Despite a fading appetite for such astronomical use of public money in a time of government cuts, Transport Secretary Patrick McLaughlin has written to owner-occupiers about a “safeguarding zone” in which properties may need to be “acquired” during a programme of major work which could last until 2026. Compulsory purchase orders could start in two years, the minister said, leaving a cloud of uncertainty hanging over large areas of Camden.
New maps – which are out for consultation until January 31 – show parts of Camden Town, Kentish Town and Primrose Hill potentially threatened by the HS2 bulldozers.
Even the recently agreed £300million Hawley Wharf redevelopment could yet be thrown into disarray by the route. The much-loved Hawley Arms pub, which survived the devastation of fire, is in the at-risk zone in Camden Town.
The world-famous bridge at Camden Lock – and its counterpart in Camden Road – could be demolished during work that the Town Hall has said could “close Camden Town”. Other bridges along the north London line will need to be widened and strengthened to bear the weight of the massive trains.
In Agar Grove, the future of a new housing project on the Maiden Lane estate – approved in November by council planning chiefs – is now uncertain.
HS2 Ltd has said it will have the power to block any past or current planning application that falls in its “safeguarding zone”. Owner-occupiers in the target area are being invited to sell their properties to the government at 10 per cent over the “pre-blighted” market rate from April. If they do not sell up, their homes could be snapped up by compulsory orders anyway.
Frank Dobson, Labour MP for Holborn and St Pancras, said: “What is outrageous is that it has taken them so long to come out with all of this.”
More than 200 council tenants and leaseholders on the Regent’s Park estate will see their blocks demolished – and at least 300 more will have to move because of HS2.
The top of Parkway in Camden Town now falls into the new remit. It includes a parade of homes, art studios and businesses, among them the York and Albany pub run by celebrity “F-word” chef Gordon Ramsay.
In west Euston, HS2 Ltd wants to close Maria Fidelis secondary school and move pupils to a new site in Somers Town, while the entire length of Drummond Street has been included in the “safeguarding zone”. Curry bosses fear trade will be irrevocably damaged.
In addition, thousands of bodies will have to be moved from the burial ground at St James Gardens.
A council spokeswoman said the council had been encouraging residents to respond individually.
HS2 Ltd area stakeholder manager for Euston, Laura Wise, said: “We will not start compulsorily purchasing property for HS2 before 2015 at the earliest. This is a well-recognised planning measure that protects large-scale infrastructure projects from conflicting developments.
“The fact that land is safeguarded does not necessarily mean we will need to use it.”
Camden Lock bridge, will be rebuilt.
Drummond Street curry quarter, centre, will be a route for traffic to the main site. Businesses could be “acquired” after 2015.
Parkway: A block of Georgian terraces and Gordon Ramsay’s York and Albany restaurant could be “acquired”.
Regent’s Park Estate: 368 homes on the estate and at least 500 in total in Camden face destruction – representing 80 per cent of homes threatened on the entire HS2 route. There is no guarantee that replacement homes
Euston Station: Properties in Cardington Street will disappear to make way for the rebuilt station during work expected to last until 2026.
(See main graphic above)
St James’s Gardens: Human remains will be dug up and 60 per cent of the park built on for the new station.
Maria Fidelis Convent School: Hundreds of pupils and teachers will be moved out because of years of blight and building works.
Camden Road bridge will be rebuilt.
Dumpton Place: Tranquil Primrose Hill will face thousands of dumper trucks and lorries travelling through its quiet streets to the railway development.
Agar Grove: Proposals for a major redevelopment of the Maiden Lane estate could be affected after land by the railway tracks was included in a zone earmarked by HS2 planners.