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Sarah Hayward: For a year, 18 months, HS2 was talking to us. We have a planning board to look at the redevelopment of Euston station and were talking in terms of a comprehensive redevelopment and bringing the High Speed 2 and classic railway station together into one railway station and holistic redevelopment. That was very much supported by Network Rail and Transport for London. Although we had some significant problems with the demolition that was proposed, that station redevelopment offered an opportunity to lower the track slightly and recreate ground-level connectivity. For those not familiar with Euston station, it is just sat in the middle of two residential areas, creating a very divisive blight in that community. It is not a pretty station—it is not St Pancras; it is not King’s Cross—and it divides a community where there were once historical links.
The original proposal allowed ground-level comprehensive redevelopment—hundreds of homes and thousands of jobs to be created in the active frontage at the bottom, with retail space, cafés and what-have-you, and perhaps business space above, and homes on the site as well, so allowing a local opportunity to replace some of the homes that were lost. That would actually have increased housing capacity in the area—there is very high demand for housing of all tenure types in Camden, including our massive social housing waiting list—and provided a very good opportunity for us as a local authority, local communities and local businesses, although we retained concerns about some of the demolition.
High Speed 2 came to us completely out of the blue, with no prior discussion, in February, with what it calls option 8, which was effectively to bolt a lean-to on to the current shed that is Euston station. We have got all of the demolition, but none of the redevelopment of the existing Network Rail station and no lowering of the tracks. Any redevelopment will have to have a grade up to any over-station development. We are not aware that there is current funding for over-station development now over the existing station, but only for the High Speed 2 bit coming in along the side of the existing railway station. It is a massive lost opportunity.
We get all of the blight, all of the demolition and all of the lost jobs in the immediate vicinity, but none of the regenerative effects under the current proposal. I will have to urge a rethink. That is why I say that if the Government and HS2 insist on bringing it into Euston, take a temporary option of Old Oak Common and let us get Euston station right for High Speed 2 passengers, classic rail passengers and Camden’s communities.