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HS2 accused of not listening to Camden residents over ‘paltry’ reduction in bridge height

HS2 Ltd’s new plans for the Hampstead Road Bridge in Camden have been criticised by the leader of Camden Council, who said residents weren’t consulted about the changes.

As part of the construction of the high-speed rail, HS2 Ltd is going to narrow the A400 bridge and increase its height by 4.7m in the road level at either end of the bridge and utility diversions across the Ampthill estate.

In December, it began a study into ways to reduce the needed height increase in order to reduce the impact on residents, and came to the conclusion that the preferred solution was keeping the existing design, but reducing the proposed height increase by 0.5-1m by using higher grade steel and other design adjustments.

But Cllr Sarah Hayward said: “It is unacceptable that HS2 Ltd has once again made a decision without consulting our residents whose lives will be so affected by this disruption.

“We were prepared to keep an open mind and had expected a much more thorough examination of all possible options to ensure Camden residents and businesses got the best possible outcome, with the least disruption. The paltry reduction in the height suggested by HS2 Ltd brings little relief from the impact of the original proposals.”

She added that Camden residents were not involved in the consultation on the options.

Her remarks mark another blow for HS2’s community engagement strategy, which is under review by the DfT following sharp criticisms from the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee.

Cllr Hayward has also written to Chris Grayling, the new transport secretary, saying that Camden Council opposes the plans for HS2 as they stand and warning that they will bring “decades of destruction and blight to our borough”.

Camden Council is also petitioning the House of Lords for more measures to reduce the impact of HS2 on the borough, which is home to London Euston station – beyond the package of measures agreed with HS2 and DfT late last year.

The other options considered were the realignment of the Hampstead Road Bridge 15m away from Euston Station, providing two adjacent box girder bridges and keeping the existing bridge above Network Rail tracks, but providing an extension over HS2 tracks.

In a joint statement, Transport for London (TfL) and the London Borough of Camden (LBC) said: “TfL and LB Camden’s position is that further work on the options should be carried out before any final decision is taken, including undertaking engagement with residents.”

Network Rail agreed that further work on the other options was needed and the option of providing an extension to the existing bridge remained “of significant interest”, although it agreed that the benefits of all the options were “unproven”.

Martin Frobisher, Network Rail’s route managing director for London and the north west, recently told the Transport Select Committee that although he thought the project was “really worthwhile”, Network Rail is anticipating a “difficult period” because of the disruptions it would cause across the rail network.

RTM contacted HS2 Ltd for a statement but it did not respond at the time of publication.

3.45pm UPDATE

Richard Pain, HS2's media relations manager, said: “Following a comprehensive review of the options for Hampstead Road Bridge, we have found that lowering the bridge by up to one metre more than currently planned is the preferred choice. This option best balances community and pedestrian considerations while maintaining flexibility for Network Rail. All key parties including London Borough of Camden, TfL, Network Rail and DfT had an input into the study through collaborative workshops.”

(Image c. Rui Vieira from PA Wire and Press Association Images)

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