CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

HS2: Councillors consider giving left-behind tenants extra waiting list points to escape housing hell

Residents have told repeatedly of their misery living in council blocks next to construction site

06 August, 2020 — By Tom Foot

TENANTS living next to the HS2 construction site in Euston could be offered a massive housing points boost so they can move away, the New Journal understands.

A senior councillor this week made a presentation to a Labour Group meeting about potentially awarding 600 extra points to more than 100 households in Coniston, Cartmel and Langdale blocks.

The plan, which has not yet been agreed, would answer the calls of dozens of residents who have been demanding special help to move away from “extreme noise” and pollution caused by HS2.

The New Journal reported last month how tenants in 40 homes had signed a petition calling on the council to move them away. Many had not been able to open their windows during the coronavirus lockdown.

The woman who organised the petition, who cannot be named due to a privacy issue, said yesterday (Wednesday): “I am already on the [housing waiting] list but haven’t been able to bid for anything. I would be the happiest woman in the world if this happened. My eldest is on medication every day because of the dust – 600 points would be an absolute godsend.”

HS2, the government-backed £100billion railway, is expected to make vast profits for developers moving into the area around Euston station.

The railway works are set to go on until 2036 and have already led to the demolition of three blocks on the Regent’s Park estate, with tenants moved into new-build properties nearby.

But Langdale, Coniston and Cartmel remain, overlooking the HS2 construction site.

In June, Langdale tenant Joao Miguel told the New Journal how he was living with six people in a one-bedroom flat – during lockdown – but did not have enough points to bid to move away, adding: “It is impossible to move out.” The HS2 site has swallowed up small greens on the estate leaving children with nowhere to play, and drug use has increased since nearby St James’s Gardens was sealed off by HS2 for the exhumation of thousands of bodies from a former church graveyard.

The New Journal was sent photos this week of open drug-taking in HS2’s replacement “community garden”, off the Hampstead Road. Sources at the Labour Group meeting, which is not open to the public, say 20 leaseholders in the three blocks would not be offered any extra support.

The homes left empty by transfers could potentially be filled through the Property Guardians scheme.

The New Journal understands that there was some opposition to opening up the blocks to any paying residents on human rights grounds.

They were initially on a list of homes due to be evacuated because of the works. But it was agreed that the homes could stay and that noise insulation and air purifiers would be installed in homes.

HS2 Ltd, the company in charge of the project, has failed to install 80 per cent of the equipment. And the quality of secondary glazing being installed has also been questioned by tenants who last week began tearing them out and threatened to dump them outside the HS2 site entrance in protest.

Cabinet councillor Danny Beales said: “We remain deeply concerned about the disruption residents are experiencing as a result of HS2. Residents’ concerns are at the front and centre of our thinking as we push HS2 Ltd to honour their existing commitments and go further to provide protection against noise and dust. We are committed to working with residents and all the organisations working at Euston to develop further meaningful solutions to help alleviate the very significant concerns and experiences of residents.”

HS2 has also said it takes resident concerns very seriously, adding: “We have a number of measures in place to minimise disruption for residents near our construction sites. We use noise monitors, and if noise level limits are exceeded work may be paused, the source identified, and mitigation put in place to prevent recurrence.”

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