In the lead up to the Local Election 2014 in London on the 22nd of May, both the Mayor and the London Assembly jointly put in a GLA petition for the HS2 hybrid bill going through the Commons for very different reasons. It didn’t draw attention as it came in under purdah and thus the rules of local government restricting publicity on such submissions. What is for sure is that both the Mayor & the London Assembly made the joint submission for very different reasons.
The Mayor clearly supports the principle of a new High Speed ” rail line with new stations at Old Oak Common and Euston. However his concerns are that the proposals do not sufficiently maximise the regeneration and development proposals for these important parts of London and thus he is making this the petition to ensure a better quality outcome for London, in his mind. Whilst for the London Assembly its to address many of the issues again that have been raised by our Transport & Environment Committees. For example we agree that the proposals for the redevelopment of Euston as HS2’s London terminus are insufficient. Under my chairmanship of the Environment Committee, our response to the draft Environment Statement, highlighted the significant impacts on the area including the demolition of homes, loss of businesses and community buildings, and the loss of green space in this densely developed area. Local stakeholders also felt the proposed new station offers little compensation for this damage. The petition has given us another opportunity to reinstate this again. Whilst the Transport Committee concentrated on the missed opportunity to improve the passenger experience at London’s sixth busiest station.
Additional passengers from HS2 in Euston may well exacerbate existing transport congestion in the area, with Euston Underground already overcrowded at peak periods. Figures provided to the Environment Committee suggest that morning peak passengers from Euston will double requiring onward travel by car, taxi and public transport when HS2 is fully operational. Thus its not difficult to conclude that construction of HS2 should not proceed without Crossrail 2 is ready for the opening od the second phase of HS2.
With Old Oak Common we have frequently expressed concerns that the plans for HS2 failed to show how it sufficiently regenerate OOC. Thus we support the specific measures outlined in the petition, including a new London Overground station, that will enhance the transport infrastructure in the area and ensure it is fully integrated with the wider transport network.
The huge HS2 construction impacts means that we need to ensures appropriate mitigation measures are in place to sufficiently minimise impacts during the construction on London’s economy, residents and transport networks. Specific construction impacts that give cause for concern include air pollution. The Environmental Statement before Parliament suggests that air pollution in many locations affected by HS2 is, even without the scheme, projected to remain in breach of national and EU limits, in some cases as late as 2026.
So as you can see there is plenty to play for in the third reading of the hybrid bill for HS2 where we may see a lot more horse trading on these key issues yet.