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03.12.15

Camden Council to get more say over HS2 to mitigate impact

Camden Council has agreed to a major package of assurances with HS2 Ltd and the Department for Transport (DfT), including a £4m construction skills centre and oversight over Euston station redevelopments, in an effort to mitigate the high-speed rail programme’s impact on the area.

In what the council understands is the largest settlement yet for any local authority, HS2 will ensure that Camden benefits from the project.

As well as a £4m skills centre in Euston, the DfT and HS2 Ltd will establish a new Euston Station Strategic Redevelopment board, of which Camden will be a member, which will advise transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin on the integration, design and delivery of Euston station “in its entirety”.

The board will also co-ordinate and oversee any development of Euston station and any Crossrail 2 proposals that may arise in order to ensure any impact on the region is minimised.

The new board will work alongside the existing Euston Strategic Board, chaired by the council’s leader and attended by HS2 Ltd and the DfT. The strategic board ensures that Hs2 supports and integrates with the Euston Area Plan and its vision for the region’s growth strategy.

Other deals have also been agreed. HS2 Ltd will, for example, explore a Camden-specific requirement that all vehicles used during the construction of the scheme will be powered by Euro Vi/6 (or lower emission) engines by the end of the decade.

It will also work with the council and residents to agree the designs for the Alexandra and Ainsworth Estate and Adelaide Road vent shafts, carry out baseline pre-works air quality monitoring where significant effects are expected, and share data with Camden annually.

New safeguards will ensure that homes close to construction sites remain fit to live in, informed by independent assessments that will commit HS2 Ltd to mitigate noise and ventilation issues prior to the project’s construction starting.

The council has also secured a like-for-like replacement of open space lost in Camden due to the infrastructure programme, as well as assistance for businesses to help them find new suitable premises or develop strategies to continue trading in their current locations.

HS2 Ltd also agreed to specific mitigation measures to assess and address the impact of the transport scheme on local schools.

The council will also be able to refuse to approve plans or specification of construction works, as well as impose conditions if the design or external appearance of the building works must be changed to preserve historically interesting sites.

During a HS2 Bill Select Committee meeting this morning (3 December), James Strachan QC, counsel for the DfT, added that the company will provide advance information sheets to the council at least two weeks before construction works start, where “reasonably possible”.

“That’s part of quite a lot of ongoing discussions with Camden taking place behind the scenes,” he said, adding that it will help ensure people have early notice when there is disruption, and where this disruption will occur.

Speaking ahead of a separate select committee meeting that took place on Tuesday (1 December), Cllr Sarah Hayward, Camden council leader, said: “These hard-fought agreements mark a long-overdue recognition of the HS2’s impact on Camden, but more importantly, protect our residents and businesses from some of the worst impacts of this scheme, which we’ve opposed from day one.

“Meaningful and independent assessments of the impacts of noise on our homes, a commitment to a plan to remove spoil by rail that will take hundreds of HGVs off our roads, getting our green open space back – these agreements will make real and lasting differences to the lives of Camden residents affected by HS2.

“Our focus now will be on working to ensure that HS2 deliver on these promises, highlighting the unfair compensation deal given to Camden on Select Committee and beyond, and convincing the government to commit to a comprehensive development of Euston Station that will reduce blight in the short-term and bring long-term benefits to Camden and London as a whole.”

Further details of agreed deals between the two parties can be found in a letter from HS2 Ltd’s Hybrid Bill delivery director, Roger Hargreaves, sent on 30 November to the chief executive of Camden Council on the transport secretary’s behalf.

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