Karen Buck

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Residents join us to discuss High Speed Rail proposals

On Thursday 28th April Queen's Park and Harrow Road Labour Councillors were joined by over 60 residents at a public meeting at St Luke's Church.

They were joined by Graham King of Westminster City Council's Planning Department and Lizzie Williams representing the Campaign opposed to HS2.

Graham King made the following observations and comments:

•That the Queens Park Estate has two levels of Heritage status - Heritage protection of some properties in Fifth Avenue and Conservation Area Status elsewhere.
•That many properties in other parts of Westminster also lie above underground lines and have similar poor foundations to those in Queen's Park (e.g. Mayfair and Victoria). He commented that the London Clay under Queen's Park was very suitable for tunnelling.
•That new trains need 400m of straight line to accommodate High Speed trains
•That trains could not run on the existing mainline tracks as High Speed Trains require a safety area around the train not just the rails
•That Westminster City Council is unable to influence the national compensation scheme.
•That implementation requires an Act of Parliament and could take much longer than people think. As it would probably be a Hybrid Bill to approve the scheme it would not be subject to any Public Inquiry (this could also be a strength to objectors)
•That the route of tunnel could alter (investigations conducted by Westminster already shows that rerouting along the line of railway to cemetery would only alter journey time by 15secs)
•That HS2 will be discussed by the Council's Built Environment Scrutiny Committee in June as a result of requests made by local Councillors following which the Council will be making a submission to the HS2 Consultation.

Lizzie Williams of the Campaign opposed to HS2 also took part and made the following comments and observations:

•That residents should be objecting to the principle of HS2 at this stage, rather than focussing on the detail. She let residents know that they could submit their comments on line at https://highspeedrail.dft.gov.uk/have-your-say or you can phone HS2 on 020 7944 4908 for more details.
•That the economic case for HS2 is to be questioned by a parliamentary Select Committee
•That the building of the HS2 would be funded by direct taxation
•That the route is 138 miles long and trains are intended to run at 225 mph
•That the route would carry 36 trains an hour with capacity for 1100 people per train
•That the exceptional Hardship scheme only relates to people in critical conditions
•She recommended that everyone should take pictures of the condition of their house and keep these as a record
•That the argument for transferring airplane passengers was, in her opinion, linked to the loss of the 4th runway at Heathrow and the potential of moving extra capacity to Birmingham
•She also made the point that much of the support for the project was from international construction and industrial companies (e.g. Chinese Steel producers)


Questions were then raised by residents about the shallowness of foundations on the Queen's Park Estate, the impact on house insurance and potential for selling houses during this period.

Queen's Park Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg confirmed that Councillors would give residents all the assistance needed to enable residents to set up an Action Group to safeguard their interests, and to provide the information necessary to make representations to the Department for Transport.

A further meeting to discuss the formation of a potential Action Group is on Wednesday 11th May at St Luke's Church at 7.00pm.

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