CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Look at who will benefit at Euston

18 February, 2021

HS2: ‘In effect: Robin Hood in reverse?’

• I AM very grateful to your HS2 coverage provided, (Coming down the tracks at HS2 site: office towers and expensive homes, February 11).

Tom Foot’s report informs us of facts that other media often conceal from the public gaze.

The Department for Transport’s recent instruction to increase the “over-site development” of Euston station and surrounds to ensure “best investment value” is no surprise to local residents.

Citizens of Camden have long suspected that the apparently illogical diversion of HS2 to run from Old Oak Common via Euston, was predicated by the tempting scenario of “bagging” a massive King’s Cross/St Pancras-style redevelopment project.

What property corporation director would pass on the golden opportunity of an Act of Parliament to allow forcible acquisition of buildings, green public park spaces, and development lands, to be taken from the people of Somers Town? In effect: Robin Hood in reverse?

Already in 2018, 57 acres (about 45 football pitches) of lands around Euston were offered to private company, Lendlease, with their appointment as “Master Development Partner” by the transport secretary and Network Rail.

I wonder, who are the directors and influential individuals within the Lendlease organisation and how has it become so powerful in this country?

How have successive UK governments managed to slip through changes in favour of construction and development industries, changes that appear to have so progressively devalued the price tag on conservation of trees and wildlife?

In the current situation, fines for wildlife crimes might seem a lot for an individual person to pay; but are financially risible for large global corporations.

This has created a scenario, whereby large corporates have an effective “carte blanche” to destroy huge swathes of this country’s increasingly scarce and much treasured, living, breathing, green sanctuaries and trees, in both cities and countryside.

What surprise, then, that small bands of environmentally concerned individuals try to stop this bandwagon of redevelopment opportunism which brings ecocide in its wake?

The Stop-HS2 tunnellers have been risking their lives to try to raise public awareness of the threat to the future of our ecosystems.

The government, even as I write, are seeking to introduce ever more draconian legislation to prevent and constrain legitimate civil protest by increasingly criminalising such activities.

Does this government perhaps feel threatened by its people wanting to campaign for the introduction of a new Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill and for new laws to combat ecocide?

In Camden, with non-disclosure agreements and secrecy practically “de rigueur” for individuals and organisations even remotely associated with HS2, who can step forward to show me the evidence of meaningful and effective community collaboration by HS2?

Where has this project identified mutually beneficial ways forward, introduced real-life positive changes which enhance rather than destroy local wildlife and green space provision?

What do the citizens of Camden see on the ground around Euston, to show that HS2 Ltd has acted to ensure the physical, social and mental health and wellbeing of HS2-afflicted communities?

Where is the evidence of new green and public wildlife spaces to atone for the forced removal of St James Gardens, all of Euston Square Memorial Gardens, multiple other community open spaces, and so many, many, mature Camden trees?

Maybe government tell us that they would like to use the lands acquired around Euston to get back some money for the public purse; but citizens of Camden, who do you really think will be reaping the cash benefits from redevelopment of the Euston station and Somers Town lands? Will it be you?

DR SUSANNE GRIFFIN, NW1

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