South Kilburn residents fighting vent shaft plans accuse HS2 chiefs of ‘inept communication’
PUBLISHED: 06:45 03 February 2016
Residents in South Kilburn have accused HS2 chiefs of “inept communication” as they made a last ditch stand against a vent shaft being dug and erected next to their homes and school.
Armed with petitions from more than 500 people, representatives from St Mary’s Catholic School in Canterbury Road, and tenants and residents associations appealed to a select committee supported by Tulip Siddiq, Labour MP for Hampstead and Kilburn.
HS2, the government funded company building a high speed railway line between London and Birmingham, changed the location of the vent shaft from a car park in Queens Park to Canterbury Road last year after Brent Council put in its own petition.
At a committee hearing last week, angry residents accused HS2 of not communicating with residents, of providing false maps to the select committee and for failing to give adequate reason for choosing the site near the school which they had first rejected in 2010.
Arantxa Arranz, parent and guardian representative at St Mary’s School took her petition with 129 signatures from angry parents.
She said: “They are going to excavate 40 metres below the ground, and spend years building it.
“The children’s playground is where it will affect the children the most. They will be directly affected by the impact of noise levels from construction and dust.”
Pete Firmin, chairman of the Tenants Residents Association of Alpha, Gorfield and Canterbury estates, lives directly next to and opposite the proposed site.:
He added: “The maps HS2 showed didn’t reflect that we have been living on a building site for four years already and we had to point out to the committee they were wrong.
“People in the area are being constantly dumped on and they feel they are being dumping on even more.
“HS2 may have spoken to the school but has said nothing to us as local residents.”
Ms Siddiq who summed up the residents concerns, said: “The decision to build the vent shaft at Canterbury Works defies HS2’s previous statements. They have previously said it is too densely populated to be considered, yet a few years later, the local population is booming and they have completely reversed their assessment.
“The quality of life of our children and residents must come first and I have serious concerns regarding air, noise pollution and increased traffic that could result in South Kilburn.
“It was also clear from the exchanges that HS2 have been utterly inept at communicating plans with local residents, particularly for those who speak English as a second language.
“HS2 has some way to go before these plans are deemed acceptable to parents at the school and the residents who live in the immediate area.”
A spokesman for HS2 they acknowledged that there had been construction work since the satellite images but stressed the main purpose of the maps was to illustrate the HS2 works for the committee.
He added: “The location of the vent shaft was moved from the initial preferred location at Salusbury Road following an objection from the local authority. It is important that the community have the opportunity to offer their view and they have been able to do this through consultation on an environmental statement and the petitioning process. The committee has now heard these petitions and will make any recommendations in the near future.”