HS2: Camden challenges HS2 Ltd. to pay for tenants' moves away from disruption
Camden Council has challenged HS2 Ltd. on High Speed 2 (HS2) rail works that could breach noise thresholds on the doorsteps of hundreds of Camden tenants – and make their homes virtually uninhabitable.
Camden Council is urging HS2 Ltd. to step forward and fund the rehousing of all residents of Cartmel, Coniston and Langdale blocks on the Regent’s Park Estate and 40-68 Coburg Street and 29-35 Starcross Street – otherwise it will be forced to take matters into its own hands.
If funding is not forthcoming from HS2 Ltd., Camden will proceed with rehousing its own tenants on a phased basis, offering them 630 additional housing points that will give them the opportunity to bid for an alternative council home. Such a scheme would prioritise the most critically affected and vulnerable households first. Camden will continue to pursue compensation for the costs faced in doing the right thing for residents.
The Council is also putting HS2 Ltd. on notice to the Secretary of State for Transport and will soon be taking steps to commence proceedings through Parliament for the breaches of disturbance thresholds and the absence of effective mitigation – unless an agreement is reached to support all residents.
HS2 works are set to ramp up, risking making life intolerable for these residents. When combined with the disruption residents are already facing, the likely breaches to noise thresholds that new piling and excavation work will cause will leave residents’ homes virtually uninhabitable.
“We have heard from so many residents that they feel they cannot live in these conditions any longer. We have reached the stage where we have to take matters into our own hands and act to protect as many residents as we can from further disruption. We will be writing to residents concerned with full details of how they can apply to our Rehousing Scheme. We are here to work with residents to ensure they get a move that is suitable for them.
“We will do all we can within our limited funds but we can’t meet all our residents needs without funding. We are continuing to press HS2 Ltd. to fund the rehousing of residents in all these homes. We are clear that such an agreement would have to ensure no loss of council homes in Camden and around Euston specifically.
“Right through from our appearances in Parliament lobbying HS2 Ltd. for mitigations, to hard negotiations over the last few months, we have not stopped fighting for our residents’ rights. It’s time for HS2 Ltd to do right by our residents, and if they won’t agree to this compensation, we will take any noise and disturbance breaches that occur to Parliament.
It has recently become clear that the next phase of HS2 works, which involves highly disruptive piling and excavation in the Regent’s Park area, will breach the acceptable noise thresholds HS2 Ltd. signed up to. HS2 Ltd. has not yet completed work to install noise mitigation measures that are required under the assurances the council was given ahead of the House of Commons Select Committee in 2015.
HS2 Ltd.’s Noise Insulation Programme, which launched in 2017, should have delivered noise insulation including secondary glazing, mechanical ventilation and solar blinds to 798 Camden owned properties by the time the main works started. However, only 13% of the homes have had the full package of noise insulation including ventilation installed to date.
The situation is also exacerbated by Covid-19, as a large proportion of Camden residents are now spending more time at home, particularly during the working day coinciding with construction hours. In discussions leading up to the parliamentary stage of the HS2 Bill, the Council asked for residents from impacted blocks to be included with those who would need to be rehoused. This request was refused on the grounds that the noise insulation measures the Council secured in assurances would mitigate the impacts and that most disruption would be during the day when the majority of residents would have been expected to be out of their properties and therefore unaffected. This is no longer the case given the Covid-19 pandemic and the low number of eligible flats that have had noise insulation installed.
The proposal will discussed by the Council’s Cabinet at their meeting on Wednesday, 28 October 2020.
Camden Council previously secured money from HS2 Ltd. to build 90 replacement homes for council tenants who were living in the Ainsdale, Eskdale and Silverdale blocks, which were demolished as part of HS2. A further 70 apartments in the Netley development on Stanhope Street are also being used as replacement homes for those residents.