High Speed Rail (London – West Midlands) Bill

Part of Speaker’s Statement – in the House of Commons at 6:31 pm on 28th April 2014.

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Photo of Frank Dobson Frank Dobson Labour, Holborn and St Pancras 6:31 pm, 28th April 2014

In the ridiculously short time available, I will have to confine my remarks to the impact on my constituency.

I should point out the ridiculous situation whereby the hybrid Bill before the House proposes major works in my constituency, none of which the Government now intend to carry out. The Bill also provides for a link from HS2 to HS1. That ridiculous proposal has been abandoned altogether. The Bill provides for the option 8 design of the station at Euston. That ridiculous proposal, we are told, is shortly to be abandoned, but the design, cost and construction timetable for the alternative to it have not yet been worked out, so there’s nowt to vote on.

The neighbourhoods to the east and west of Euston station and its railway approaches are densely populated with a variety of uses. Most of the streets are overwhelmingly residential. They are home to large numbers of residents living in high densities in settled and varied communities, with a wide range of incomes, housing tenures, jobs, ethnic origins and religions. Most of those residents want to continue to live there. They rightly resent patronising references to their neighbourhood by the much lauded chair of HS2 Ltd and have asked me to remind him and everyone else that where they live is not like the Olympic site. It is not a brownfield site, ripe for redevelopment.

The HS2 project as now proposed would wreak havoc on those neighbourhoods. It would expand Euston station by 75 metres to the west, demolish the homes of 500 people and subject 5,000 more to living for a decade next to the construction site or beside roads that will be made intolerable by the heavy goods vehicles servicing the main site and the 14 satellite construction compounds. No consideration has been given to the cumulative harm that all this would do to the quality of life of my constituents. The proposed working hours regime enables work to proceed at any hour of the day or night. Every little park and play space near the site is to be taken over. Small, locally owned and locally staffed businesses, especially cafes, shops and restaurants in Drummond street, face financial disaster. Between 40% and 70% of their business is passing trade from pedestrians going to and from Euston station, which, for the duration of the works—10 years—will be cut off by a solid, 3.6 metre-high security fence.

The people I represent believe that HS2 should not go ahead. Failing that, they believe that HS2 should terminate at Old Oak Common, at least temporarily, to test its capacity and permit the assessment of any capacity needed at Euston to be based on experience rather than the guesswork used so far.