HS2 shock for Parkway residents as Transport Secretary warns of possible compulsory purchase orders

Thursday, 3rd January 2013

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Patrick McLoughlin MP has written to residents living at the top end of Parkway

Published: 3 January, 2013
by TOM FOOT

A CLOSE-KNIT community has already started to unravel after the Transport Secretary warned their homes could be the subject of a compulsory purchase order under propo­sals that represent a huge expansion of the HS2 project in Camden.

Tory front-bencher and former miner Patrick McLoughlin MP has written to residents living at the top end of Parkway, Camden Town, warning of “unwelcome news” that their homes “may in future need to be acquired”.

There is a possibility of compulsory purchase orders from 2015, the minister added, in two newly unveiled “safeguarding areas” bordering the massive construction site in Euston and Regent’s Park, and surround the current overground railway lines that run through the heart of historic Camden Town and Hawley Wharf.

The announcement has shocked residents of 117 Parkway – a gated community in Camden Town – who did not realise their homes would be affected by the £33billion project in this way.

The New Journal understands at least one family intend to sell-up at the earliest opportunity while another intends not to leave despite construction works being just nine metres from their front doorstep.

Mike Dowd, an architect who lives in Parkway, said: “Current HS2 compensation proposals make no allowance for the destruction of a close-knit community with school-age children, with no consideration of individual financial and personal situations, and with a ‘smoke and mirrors’ offer of a 10 per cent home loss payment capped at a level where none of the residents is eligible.”

The letter says the properties in Parkway fall in a proposed “safeguarding area”, currently being consulted on.

The demolition site is  already the size of 17 football pitches, but HS2 Ltd, the company in charge of the scheme, says it could need more space for lorries or construction works during a planned decade of works in Camden.

It effectively drags hundreds more properties into the mix – particularly in Drummond Street and Regent’s Park Estate – and potentially affecting homes from Chalk Farm Road to Agar Grove to St Pancras.

The aim of the safeguarding zones are to “ensure new developments do not affect the liability to build or operate HS2”.

Mr McLoughlin’s letter said HS2 Ltd had powers to veto any planning applications in the safeguarding areas.

It includes land around the current overground railways lines that need to be expanded. The area includes the site of the £300m Hawley Wharf development in Camden Town which was given planning consent by the Town Hall last month.

A HS2 spokesman said major planning applications that had already been granted would be looked at on a “case by case basis”.

All tenants, residents and businesses in the safeguarding area will be able apply to sell their properties to the government from spring under the HS2 compensation package “even if there is doubt as to whether or not it would be needed for a railway”.

He added: “The letter also makes clear that just because you live in the safeguarded area does not mean that we will have to compulsorily purchase a property.”

A consultation on proposed safeguarding maps closes on January 31 and more details are available on the HS2 website.

HS2 Ltd Area Stakeholder Manager for Euston, Laura Wise, said: “Under the current HS2 property compensation proposals, which are subject to consultation, owner-occupiers who live in the safeguarded area would be able to ask the government to buy their property from spring 2013 – but this would be voluntary.

"We will not start compulsorily purchasing property for HS2 before 2015 at the earliest.

“Safeguarding is a well-recognised planning measure that protects large-scale infrastructure projects, such as railways, from conflicting developments. The fact that land is safeguarded does not necessarily mean we will need to use it.

“We recently held a consultation event in the Euston area about property compensation and plan to meet with residents of Parkway soon to discuss any concerns.

“We would encourage everyone with an interest in the current compensation proposals to respond to the consultation by 31 January.”

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