“If we don’t fight for Camden, who will?” demanded Stanley Johnson, long-time Camden resident, ex-MEP and, perhaps most famously, father of Boris, Mayor of London.
“This evening, we are not here to stop HS2, but to save Camden,” stated Martin Sheppard of the Pan-Camden HS2 Alliance.
The message was clear. HS2 represents a grave threat to Camden as we know it, and it will be a battle to save it. However, as Mr Johnson pointed out, you can’t win a war if you don’t fight. And Kennedy Hall, Cecil Sharp House was packed to bursting with local people ready to go into battle.
Addressing the meeting was a panel of experts on the matter. Jon Snow was sadly no longer available to chair, as he had been sent to Davos by Channel Four News, but amongst others alongside Messrs Johnson and Shepherd were Frank Dobson, our local MP, Sarah Hayward, Leader of Camden Council, and Chris Naylor, local councillor. Not one of them had a good word to say about the effect of HS2 on Camden, and between them they painted a grim picture of life in the borough if this project were to be allowed to go ahead in its present form.
However, there were two solutions to this problem on offer. Firstly, the railway could be tunnelled below Camden, at an extra cost of around £150 million. Frank Dobson put this sum into perspective: “This may sound like a lot of money to you and me, but it isn’t to them (HS2 Ltd). They’re spending £812million on one tunnel in the Chilterns.”
Secondly, an improved scheme at Euston, known as Double Deck Down, would save the Regent’s Park Estate from demolition whilst allowing the creation of a smaller yet better rebuild of Euston than is currently proposed, with increased interconnectivity and capacity.
As things stand, the charm, vigour and lively environment of our borough are set to be destroyed; businesses, homes and local amenities will be rendered unusable or will be demolished. If HS2 really has to go ahead, the two solutions proposed yesterday simply must be adopted to preserve all that is unique and precious about Camden.
Martin Sheppard told me this:
’The full scale of HS2’s threat to Camden is finally getting through. Last night’s meeting at Cecil Sharp House will, I believe, prove a turning-point for the better in Camden’s fortunes.’
Want to know what you can do to help?
Click here www.camden.gov.uk/hs2 to find all the information you need on HS2 in Camden and the official channels to object or comment.
Good luck Camden.
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