Government announcements on HS2

Shortly after our last open meeting on March 7th, the Secretary of State for Transport submitted to the House of Commons a Written Ministerial Statement (March 9th) on revisions to a series of Government transport projects.

On HS2, the statement said as below:

In rail, HS2 is making good progress, and we have already spent over £20 billion delivering Phase One between London and the West Midlands, supporting 2,500 businesses and creating over 29,000 jobs. The Government is prioritising HS2’s initial services between Old Oak Common in London and Birmingham Curzon Street to provide delivery of passenger benefits as soon as possible. We remain committed to delivering HS2 services to Euston, and will address affordability pressures to ensure the overall spending profile is manageable. We will therefore take the time to ensure we have an affordable and deliverable station design, delivering Euston alongside high-speed infrastructure to Manchester. We continue to take the High Speed Rail (Crewe – Manchester) Bill through Parliament, and the Crewe-to-Manchester section will also form the foundations for improved rail services in the North through Northern Powerhouse Rail.

Subsequent media coverage suggests that ‘prioritising’ the service to Old Oak Common and undertaking a further redesign at Euston means that the Euston terminus will not open until the 204os.

Leader of Camden Council Georgins Gould has said :

The community around Euston have lost homes, schools and businesses to HS2. They’ve already lived through years of disruption with no end in sight. If there is a delay, HS2 must not forget the promises they made to our community and must continue to deliver on them.

What we can’t have is a partially abandoned building site, with huge areas fenced off creating a barrier between our communities, and a general stagnation which leads to opportunities being lost. Instead, HS2 Ltd. need to make sure they open up the site where it is safe to do so and work with our communities on how they can be used during any delay.

There is as yet no press statement from OPDC on the implications of Old Oak Common station remaining the London terminus for the Birmingham/London stretch of HS2.   The Mayor of London has commented having trains going to Old Oak Common for a longer period is not a viable option.   Passenger numbers on the Elizabeth Line are already forecast to become unmanageable, without having to cope with all HS2 passengers  changing trains at Old Oak Common.

“Hundreds of millions of pounds have been spent regenerating the Euston area, and homes and businesses have been demolished to make way for HS2, causing huge disruption for zero reward.

As yet there seems to be no clarity on the impact of this Government announcement on the timetable for the release by HS2 of the four key sites at Old Oak West,  in use at present as construction compounds.  Last autumn HS2 were saying that The Atlas Road site is currently anticipated to be released in Q2 2032, which is later than the other three sites as it is a key part of the delivery of the HS2 Euston station.  (We think that HS2 refer to the whole construction compound at Channel Gate/Atlas Road as ‘the Atlas Road site’).

This slide bellow, which we have been using at our recent open meetings, may now be out of date.

HS2 site release dates

What are the implications of these latest Government announcements for the Old Oak West Supplementary Planning Document, and for the planning and development of a ‘major new town centre’ at this location?

The OPDC Place Lab sessions, organised by consultants Soundings, will be the first opportunity for local people to find out more and to discuss the consequences of Old Oak Common station remaining the HS2 terminus for what is now an indefinite period?   While the present Government has given a commitment to extend Phase 1 of HS2 as far as Euston, who knows what the position will after a General Election or in 5-10 years time?

The dates and locations for the three Place Lab sessions are below:

Place Lab sessions