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South Kilburn residents fight plans for HS2 vent shaft next to primary school

PUBLISHED: 09:06 26 May 2015 | UPDATED: 09:06 26 May 2015

Protest builds outside St Mary's Catholic Primary School    (Pic credit: Angela Blake)

Protest builds outside St Mary's Catholic Primary School (Pic credit: Angela Blake)

Archant

Residents, parents and children in South Kilburn are fighting against plans to have a controversial HS2 vent shaft installed outside a primary school.

A protest outside St Mary’s Catholic Primary School in Canterbury Road, was held to force Brent Council to look at the impact of the disruption if proposals to build a 40 metre deep shaft alongside it go ahead.

HS2, the government body in charge of the controversial multi billion pound train line which will shave 30 minutes off a journey from London to Birmingham, initially allocated its giant ventilation shaft in a car park in Salusbury Road, Queens Park. .

However, Brent Council are objecting and proposing the Canterbury Works site, situated next to the school.

The proposed shaft will be 40 metres deep, 30 metres wide and 10 metres high and will take two years to dig out and four further years to build.

Ladi Chapman, parent governor at the school which her three children attend, said she was “very concerned, very worried”: “It’s 11 double decker buses deep, so it’s not a small hole,” she said.

“The digging, the noise, it’s the destruction of the health and educational welfare of at least 395 children.”

She added: “My daughter Lois is nine and suffers from asthma. Are you going to tell me that it’s not going to get worse? Brent Council have a duty of care to all these children.”

Donna Gillan, who has two daughters at the school, added: “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that if it goes ahead there will be noise, dirt and pollution right next to a children’s playground where four and five year olds play.”

Mike Kyte, who recently put down a deposit to buy a flat opposite the newly proposed site, said: “From a personal point of view this new location for the vent shaft makes absolutely no sense. More importantly with the sheer number of children who appear to attend St Mary’s Primary school both from a construction period and long term point of view, this can’t be a sensible decision.

“To me this seems like a David vs Goliath situation which Brent Council thinks it can win easily because of their power.”

Cllr Margaret McLennan, Brent Council’s lead member for regeneration and housing, said: “We have looked at where the HS2 works could be located, to best support the regeneration plans for South Kilburn which will provide over 1,000 much needed affordable homes for existing residents.

“From these studies, we consider that the Canterbury Works site is the most suitable for the HS2 works.

“We have met with the school to discuss the proposal and if the scheme goes ahead we will work closely with HS2 and the school to ensure that any adverse impacts on the school are mitigated.”

A spokesman for HS2 confirmed there were two possible locations, Salusbury Road or the Canterbury Works site.

He added: “We are still in negotiation with the council and residents groups around the location of the vent shafts and which one of those will be the best option.”

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