CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

HS2 blame game spells hopeless misery for leaseholders

29 April, 2021

Noisy HS2 work continues in Hampstead Road

STRONG words from the council this week over the “unacceptable” plight of leaseholders on the Regent’s Park estate, (Leaseholders still trapped next to HS2 works hell, April 29).

HS2 Ltd, typically, remains stubbornly trenchant in its position. Now deadlocked, a group of leaseholders in Cartmel, Langdale and Coniston have been left up a high-speed creek without a paddle.

Set aside the noisy drilling and polluted fumes, imagine living in a virtually empty council-owned block but with no hope of getting out? Residents are worried about crime taking hold.

The fate of the blocks – ironically named after unspoilt idylls in the Lake District – was sealed around Christmas 2015.

The council had initially demanded the blocks be included on a list of others on the estate that would be decanted and demolished during the works programme. They had at one stage prepared High Court action against HS2 on the matter.

However, the blocks were taken off the list as part of an agreement struck between HS2 and the former Town Hall administration, then led by Cllr Sarah Hayward.

In the corridors of the House of Commons, a list of 100 “assurances” from HS2 were supposed to “ensure homes close to the construction site remain fit to live in”. In return, the council stopped outright campaigning against HS2 and began working alongside them.

The assurances included promises of sound and noise insulation for hundreds of homes, and acceptable lorry routes for the removal of spoil.

HS2 has categorically failed to follow through with its windows and air filter pledges. It remains to be seen whether a “like for like” replacement of lost open space will materialise.

The assurances package included a signed agreement to review the “special circumstances” at Cartmel and “to consider permanent or temporary relocation of residents”.

The vague terms of this agreement, much trump­eted by the Town Hall at the time as a success, has allowed HS2 to do, well, to do nothing.

With the cost of HS2 under such intense scrutiny, was it really plausible that tens of millions of pounds would be made available to buy-out the stranded leaseholders?

There are also questions over the replacement homes, specifically built for residents displaced by HS2, on the Regent’s Park estate. Why are they not ready to go, having been built several years ago? The council did not seem keen to provide an answer this week.

The Town Hall should be applauded for acting so swiftly to help dozens of tenants move out of three blocks with its resettlement scheme, following an unimaginable lockdown living a stone’s throw from the main building site.

But the leaseholder dispute seems to have now got stuck in a straightforward blame game, with no meaningful resolution in sight.

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