It’s the year 2036… and this is Euston Station

Deputy editor TOM FOOT has been writing about HS2 for more than a decade – so we sent him down to the PR launch of new designs for the future of Euston Station

Monday, 14th March — By Tom Foot

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The latest artist’s impression of how Euston could look

Deputy editor TOM FOOT has been writing about HS2 for more than a decade – so we sent him down to the PR launch of new designs for the future of Euston Station

IT is now 13 years since Lord Andrew Adonis, the self-styled Baron of Camden Town, famously dreamt up the High Speed 2 railway project while soaking in his bath.  That’s how he describes his eureka moment, at least.

Fast forward to this week and overlooking the ruins of a half-demolished Euston, HS2 Ltd unveiled two CGI images of what the “transport super hub” might look like by the time it is finally built in 2036.

Despite years of carte blanche approval by MPs in Parliament – a stark contrast to the resistance in Camden – there has never been a planning application for what the flagship terminus of the HS2 railway will really look like.

This week, those interested will have to make do with the artist’s impressions, which came with the provision of possible other buildings mapped out with ghostly white lines.

Since 2015, HS2 costs have ballooned from around £50billion to £110billion leading to a recent government review on spending which forced the scope of the plan for Euston to be reduced even further.

What was, however, immediately striking from the PR event in HS2’s lavish offices at One Eversholt Street on Tuesday was how little has progressed in the years since a first try was unveiled in 2015.

The latest station designs look similar to those that preceded them, but with one key difference: the yellow dome entrance, cruelly dubbed a “fungal toe nail” by opponents at the time, has been removed.

Instead, a new split roof is described as “a bold geometric design” and “an identifying feature of the station emphasising its north south alignment and its role as a regional gateway”.

“Why not the golden toenail?” said Tom Venner, managing director of The Euston Partnership when asked by the New Journal.

“Fundamentally, this is a better design. The experience, the way you can navigate through this site, it is simply better.”

The plan for Euston station after its HS2 makeover

Journalists, mainly from the enthusiastic trade press, were served an array of triangular sandwiches as the designs were explained.

A panel revealed statistics about how the 300 metre long station hall would be 20 per cent larger than Trafalgar Square, and that there would be new access to the underground station. It said 3,000 jobs would be created by the project.

Journeys to Birmingham would be slashed to 42 minutes and Manchester could be reached in 68 minutes when the line is complete, the meeting heard.

The expected date for it all to be finished: 2036.

It’s perhaps understandable then if the excitement in the HS2 offices is not matched by the remaining residents in Cartmel, Coniston and Langdale the Regent’s Park estate who will by that time have lived with the thundering piling drills and construction grime on their doorsteps for more than 20 years.

A generation will have grown up in the area without any public park or open space. They have been demolished by HS2 or used to build on for replacement housing.

Homes have been demolished, communities broken up, 20,000 human remains exhumed from a burial site and thousands of rubble filled lorries sent down residential streets each month. Air vents and sound-proofing have not so far been installed in tenants homes as promised.

Declan McCaffrey – the lead architect of HS2 – nonetheless said one of HS2’s core principles was “making construction quicker and easier”, adding: “It is also about being a better neighbour than stations have been in the past. It’s also about making sure the face the station presents to communities is active.

“The third part of our brief is providing a catalyst for regeneration. Providing development over the station, new jobs and homes for the area, part of a comprehensive development delivered by Lendlease – that’s a separate application.”

Development firm Lendlease has just begun the very first stage of an 18 month consultation on its “masterplan” for the ground level around the station.

Critics have often said they believe this amounts to a “land grab” and was always a motivating factor to bringing HS2 to Euston, rather than stopping in Old Oak Common in west London – a move which would have prevented the never-ending disruption in Camden.

The land for this “new piece of city”, worth around £7billion, was compulsorily purchased by the government but the company will get the first right of refusal on it after the station is complete.

The ‘fungal toe nail’ in this 2015 proposal has been dropped

More details are due to come out after the council elections and the completion of the electoral “purdah” period when communications are restricted.

The launch also heard how the station would aim to connect Regent’s Park estate with Somers Town, although only after Network Rail had finished its redevelopment of the station.  Planning details for what would be another huge project in Camden are awaited.

“Network Rail has been funded to accelerate their work to bring that forward,” said Mr Venner. “The team at Lendlease are trying to shape what that place will be. We are doing the bits we know we can do now so when Network Rail comes forward we know we can bolt on to it.”

When asked why it had taken seven years to come up with new designs, he added: “You have to take time to get things right.”

“Euston really is at the heart of the government’s levelling up agenda. But Euston isn’t about levelling up the country, it’s about levelling up London.

“We are surrounded by some of the most deprived communities in our country. It is essential the local community benefit thoroughly and early from the changes taking place here.”

 

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