CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Losing track of tenants who are stuck in a HS2 nightmare

25 June, 2020

THERE will no doubt be many who could stake a claim for having lived through the most nightmarish lockdown conditions in Camden.

But it is hard to imagine many worse-off than the tenants of Langdale – and in particular Joao Miguel. His family of six are crammed into a one-bedroom flat, with four young children off school and their only playground demolished by HS2. Rats have infested their walls and the pungent smell of cooked heroin wafts through their window vents throughout the day.

And, on top of that, they are metres away from the mind-bending cacophony of HS2’s heavy machines – drilling, digging and hauling 12 hours a day, six days a week.

The tenants’ demands to be moved out may well be strengthened by an independent surveyor whose initial assessment says their living conditions are the worst he has ever seen.

How has it come to this?

The three blocks, Langdale, Coniston and Cartmel, were once being considered for the wrecking ball, at a time when the council was outright opposing HS2.

It was later agreed tenants would not be decanted as long as new windows and insulation were fitted.

The council admitted this week that just over a fifth of these promised measures have been fitted by HS2.

During the early years of debate in Camden about the railway, the row focused on hundreds of tenants in Ainsdale, Silverdale and Eskdale that had been earmarked for demolition. Their outrage was cooled when HS2 agreed to move all tenants into new-build homes.

Families were moved into homes that met their needs. They left behind the squalor for a new life in modern housing.

It is now palpably clear that those who had their homes knocked down were, comparatively, the lucky ones.

Langdale, Coniston and Cartmel tenants are facing 10-15 more years of this.

Children may well be developing breathing problems from the dust. The constant din is pushing people to the edge. On top of that the block is filthy, bordering on derelict. There is no escape. They have been given no extra points to move housing. No chance of a swap.

Have senior councillors been down to see for themselves? If they did, they might be more vocal against HS2. The land around Euston being flattened by HS2 is valued at £6billion.

Developers will make fortunes through the “regeneration” at Camden tenants’ expense.

The council blames HS2. HS2 says it is acting within the law. But there is a collective culpability here that needs to be addressed

 

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