"The jury is still out on the extent of HS2’s economic benefits to London and the rest of the UK. But extensive plans are being drawn up to make the most of the proposed line, with a focus on Old Oak Common as the ‘Canary Wharf of the West’, along with a rejuvenated Euston station and environs."
"Those were the overriding themes to be drawn from a special NLA session, organised to provide an update on the impact and opportunities for the capital from the high-speed line."
"HS2 technical director Prof Andrew McNaughton said that the scheme was
necessary to provide London – ‘the only true metropolis in Europe’ and a
city faced with 1 million more people by 2031 – with the capacity it
needs and to connect the rest of the country’s ‘spine’ of major
conurbations. The project has the go-ahead to develop detail for a
hybrid bill by the end of 2013 on the first stage of the ‘Y Network,’
with a view to getting the line up and running with a full commercial
service in 2026.
"McNaughton said that a two-station solution was required at the London
end of the line at Old Oak Common and Euston, because without this, any
speed advantages would be lost in congestion. ‘If anyone doesn’t
understand that, try Shanghai’, he said. As part of the plans, Euston
will be expanded with 10 new platforms, potentially underground in order
to foster better pedestrian movement across the site.
opportunities at Old Oak Common will be ‘enormous’, he added, but part
of the four-pronged process toward the mayor’s approval of the project
will be assessing HS2’s environmental impact – felt to be considerable
by many observers.
"One such, Camden Council leader Cllr Sarah Hayward said the effects of
HS2 on her borough would be wide-ranging, with people losing their homes
and businesses, especially in the half of Drummond Street which will be
swallowed up by Euston expansion. Furthermore, said Hayward,
construction work will impact adversely on local schools, and blight
over areas will cause uncertainty. ‘The impact is already quite
devastating for people’, she said. ‘HS2’s impact on Camden is
devastating and has been ill thought-through’.
"But rather than talk of ‘mitigating’ the line, we should be maximising
its positive elements, said Arup’s Global Rail Leader director Colin
Stewart. ‘We’re looking for something for the next 50, 100, 200 years’,
he said. ‘It’s legacy, so we have to get it right’.
"Transport for London
managing director, planning, Michèle Dix was more positive: ‘Old
Oak Common is a big, big opportunity to not just have a transport
interchange but a big development here’, she said. ‘Our job is to widen
"LSE London director Tony Travers said that although Government sees HS2
as a major economic driver to the rest of England, from railway
developments of the past it is ‘not at all clear there will be that kind
of impact.’ He added that it was questionable why an area so close to
London as Old Oak Common had been so resistant to economic development
thus far, and there were concerns about the line undermining overground
routes. But development of the ‘tired 1960s Euston station could be used
as a catalyst to bring substantial change to an area with poverty and
"Neil Bennett of Terry Farrell + Partners said he believed that Old Oak
Common could see development comparable to Canary Wharf in scale. But he
added that it was important to view all of Britain’s transport
infrastructure improvements as part of an integrated system.
GLA strategic planning manager Martin Scholar said that the HS2 plans
were an important proposition with a ‘subtext’ of regeneration benefits,
not least at Park Royal, and helped by emerging Opportunity Area
Planning Frameworks. ‘Transformational change should be the aim at Old
Oak Common. We’re trying to lobby for more than a rail-to-rail
interchange’, he said. ‘It’s not Crewe.’
David Taylor, Editor, New London Quarterly