Stunned residents are told hospital site may not be used for new houses to replace homes demolished to make way for HS2

Thursday, 22nd November 2012

Residents described the high-speed rail scheme as 'diabolical' at a meeting tonight

Published: 22 November, 2012
EXCLUSIVE by TOM FOOT

HS2 bosses caused uproar tonight (Thursday) after they said there was no commitment from the government to use the National Temperance Hospital site to replace council homes demolished to make way for the £33billion railway.

Former Secretary of State for Transport Justine Greening had written to Camden Council leader Sarah Hayward in April outlining plans to buy the site for social housing. The idea was to rehouse hundreds of council tenants and leaseholders whose homes will be bulldozed in the area where they already live.

At a meeting in Maria Fidelis School, Euston, a HS2 official said: “We have never been given a commitment from the Secretary of State that that site will be used for social housing.”

She added that HS2 chief executive Alison Munro had received a letter to that effect from the current Secretary of State. The meeting heard from railway architects that the hospital, in Hampstead Road, is instead being earmarked for a building site for HS2 works.

Cllr Hayward said she had a “clear expectation” of what would happen following the official letter from Ms Greening earlier this year.

She added that there had been no discussions about alternative sites for replacement homes.

Ms Greening has since been replaced by Patrick McLoughlin as Transport Secretary in a cabinet reshuffle.

An outraged MP Frank Dobson demanded to know: “What was the genesis of the change?”

It was an question that HS2 chose not to answer.

But in a discussion on compensation, which is £4,700 for each tenant, an official from HS2 said: “We will reprovide high quality social housing in the area that is practical.”

HS2 parliamentary liaison chief Clinton Leeks said: “We will go back and establish whether there was a letter. I have not seen a letter – but we will go back to the Secretary of State to see if such a letter exists.”

He added: “We are not liars.”

The meeting heard passionate speeches from tenants and curry house bosses from Drummond Street, the historic Indian restaurant district that the meeting heard would be “destroyed” by the “diabolical” scheme.

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