HS2: Council continues to push HS2 Ltd to reduce impact on Camden as HS2 Bill receives Royal Assent
The High Speed 2 (HS2) Bill received Royal Assent today (23 February), giving the Government the go ahead to begin 17 years of construction of the railway scheme that the Council has always opposed.
“Together with residents, community groups and businesses, we’ve challenged the HS2 Bill every step of the way to limit the worst effects of what will be nearly two decades of construction disruption for Camden. We are proud to have successfully secured significant concessions through the difficult parliamentary process, including replacement homes for council tenants and leaseholders, noise insulation for significantly affected homes, limits on construction vehicle emissions and a £3.5 million Camden-wide community fund. After years of the Council fighting for fairer compensation for Camden residents, the Government has finally agreed to offer compensation that is ‘fair, reasonable and proportionate’ to those living in urban areas – we now need to see the details of this new scheme as soon as possible.
“But we know that residents and businesses will still face daily disruption. Hundreds will see their homes demolished, and thousands more will be impacted by construction noise and up to 800 extra two-way lorry movements every day during busiest periods. We’d prefer the scheme wasn’t going ahead, but our priority now is to hold HS2 Ltd to account on its commitments and make sure it does everything possible to further reduce impacts on Camden. We will also continue to push for the comprehensive redevelopment of Euston station, key to securing the best possible long term outcome for the area, including over 2,000 homes and around 15,000 jobs.”
The HS2 Bill becoming law marks the end of a parliamentary process that has taken over three years. The Council petitioned at every possible stage, along with over 500 petitions submitted from Camden residents, community groups and businesses across petitioning periods in the House of Commons and House of Lords.
Through hard-fought negotiations, the Council secured funding from HS2 Ltd for replacement homes for council tenants and leaseholders set to lose homes to HS2, and forced the Government to drop a proposed HS1-HS2 link that would have cut through the heart of Camden Town.
The Council and many Camden residents spent years pushing for fairer compensation, including making the case to the House of Lords Select Committee in September. Last month the Government finally committed in an unprecedented move to developing a new compensation scheme that would offer ”fair, reasonable and proportionate” compensation to communities in Camden most affected by HS2. This followed strong recommendations from the House of Lords Select Committee.
We also secured nearly 150 assurances from HS2 Ltd to minimise the negative impact on Camden, including noise insulation packages for homes severely impacted by construction, limits on construction vehicle emissions, a £3.5 million Camden-wide fund for community projects, funding for support workers for vulnerable residents, £4.1 million towards a Euston construction skills centre, mitigation measures for businesses and schools, and a commitment that HS2 Ltd will improve community engagement.
The Council convinced the House of Lords Select Committee to remove sub-sections from the Bill that would have given the Government unnecessary powers to compulsory purchase land for regeneration purposes across the route (Clause 48(1)-(3)). Together with highway authorities including Transport for London, and Members of the House of Lords, we also successfully forced the Government to reconsider and scale back its plans for further wide-reaching powers over traffic and parking.
We also supported residents and businesses through the difficult to navigate petitioning process, which the Select Committees in both Houses recognised failed to serve petitioners well. In December we submitted recommendations for simplifying the process to the latest stage of Parliament’s review of Hybrid Bill petitioning procedures.
Continuing to push to reduce HS2’s impact
The Council’s priority now is to hold HS2 Ltd to account on its commitments and to push HS2 Ltd to further reduce the scheme’s negative impact on residents and businesses.
We are still concerned that the Government has not committed to specific and ambitious targets for transporting construction and waste materials by rail. The Council took this issue to the House of Lords Select Committee, and continues to hold HS2 Ltd to account on its assurance to maximise the material transported by rail in order to remove dangerous lorries from Camden’s roads.
We are urging the Government to provide funding and timescales for the comprehensive redevelopment of Euston mainline station to integrate plans for HS2, Crossrail 2, and London Underground stations. We will continue to push for an integrated station through our membership of strategic boards and raise the issue at the highest levels of government.
We also urge HS2 Ltd to release its latest proposal for construction plans in the approach to Euston station, including Hampstead Road Bridge. The House of Lords Select Committee report in December stated the Committee’s disappointment that plans for Hampstead Road Bridge are still uncertain at this “very late stage”.
We are pushing HS2 Ltd to provide more detail on its proposed compensation scheme as soon as possible.