Boris Johnson says he will ‘win fight' over HS2 plan

Thursday, 8th August 2013

Boris Johnson

Published: 8 August, 2013
by TOM FOOT

BORIS Johnson has told the New Journal that he is “totally opposed” to a “half-hearted” HS2 redevelopment of Euston.

The Mayor of London said he was determined to “win” a heavyweight political battle over the proposed scheme that has been radically scaled back after costs rocketed by more than £1billion.

He said yesterday (Wednesday): “I am not happy with any half-hearted solution for Euston. I am totally opposed to it. This is a fantastic regeneration opportunity for our city and we shouldn’t miss it.”

The original high-speed rail plan was to build a completely new Euston Station, and open up an area the size of 17 football pitches around it for new regeneration.

When asked if he was irritated about that plan being scrapped, Mr Johnson said: “The Camden New Journal is, as ever, very well informed. I’ve just been talking about that with David Higgins [chief executive of Network Rail].

There is a big discussion going on in government in London about finding the right answer. But I think we will win.”
Mr Johnson was speaking at a publicity photocall yesterday (Wednesday) at the front entrance of King’s Cross Station.

He said the “beautiful” improvements to King’s Cross had been “triggered by regeneration from investment in transport infrastructure”.

His comments come in the week that Camden Council warned the government that it would have to pay £1billion in compensation if HS2 was brought to Euston. The total compensation pot for the entire line is around £1.3billion, according to DfT figures.

The 20-page report, commissioned from three consultancy firms at a cost of £5,550, gives a detailed breakdown of the impact of the government’s £43billion scheme on housing, business, open spaces and schools.

The report says:

• More than 480 leaseholders and council tenants will need to be rehoused at a cost of £318.10million.

• Potential demolition of commercial business premises would currently amount to £363million with relocation costs of £17.1million.

• 20 per cent of transport journeys in Camden would be delayed by at least four minutes because of traffic hold-ups.

• The loss, damage and replacement of St James Garden, Euston Square Gardens, Adelaide Road Nature Reserve, Camden Square Gardens and Hampstead Road Open Space would cost £87.5 million.
Among the other issues raised by the report are concerns that the £300million redevelopment of Hawley Wharf – which includes a new primary school to be built by 2016 – could be “lost to HS2”.
Loss of housing in the Regent’s Park Estate – the report estimates 500 homes will be demolished or decanted – will have a knock-on effect on Maria Fidelis School where reduced pupil numbers will mean a drop in annual funding. The cost of relocating the school during the 10 years of works would be “in the region” of £48million, the report adds.
Camden Council confirmed this week it intends to take the government to the Supreme Court after its High Court legal challenge was dismissed last month.

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