CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Lives being sacrificed for the scandalous HS2 project

29 October, 2020

The HS2 construction site

SHOULD we be surprised that the Government is refusing to fund replacement housing for hundreds of desperate residents living in nightmarish conditions next to the HS2 construction site?, (Unprecedented council homes points plan for HS2 tenants).

The project is already massively over-budget, years late and widely considered to be a national disgrace.

The council now state that it is “impossible” for residents to live in 130 council homes for the next 10 years because of HS2 construction, due to begin in the next few months with “major piling” a few metres away from the blocks.

Much of the work goes through the night. If residents thought they had had it bad so far with HS2, it is about to get a whole lot worse.

A Faustian Pact of 130 “assurances”, agreed between the council and HS2 in the corridors of the House of Commons back in 2015, has failed miserably to safeguard residents from the project.

Councillors say they had expected even until last week that a package of £129million would be agreed as this was “morally the right thing to do”.

A specially convened cabinet meeting last night agreed to an alternative: giving tenants a massive housing points boost to help them make a bid to escape.

There is however no coherent plan for 45 further leaseholders who, rightly, are outraged at the prospect of all their neighbours moving out.

Their properties have been classed as “virtually uninhabitable”. Will the council aim to buy back right-to-buy properties that, for the meantime at least, it deems to be “unlettable”?

Then there is the issue of precedent. What about residents at, for example, the Chalcots estate?

They too have lived with upheaval and disturbance and next to major construction work for years. Should they also be considered for an extra housing points to ensure they can move away?

The Conservative leader raises the thorny issue of how the 630 points figure will lead to Regent’s Park estate tenants “leapfrogging” others in urgent need, for example those waiting to flee abusive homes.

He said it was “unconscionable to send to the back of the queue people begging for an escape from domestic violence”.

The Conservatives are really playing with numbers here. What would they do to fund the alternative housing?

Would they support, for example, ventures such as the Community Land Trust for Camley Street, which is now being considered by council officials?

A consortium has come together and believe they can raise the capital for a great redevelopment of Camley Street. A similar scheme is being planned for Belsize Park.

This is an exceptional situation and it is going to require an exceptional response.

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