HS2 families raise concerns at South Kilburn meeting
- Credit: Archant
“Is there any chance of moving from this area?” was the rallying cry at a tense HS2 meeting in South Kilburn.
Neighbours descended on the Granville in Carlton Vale last night to seek assurances they will be shielded from excessive noise and pollution during construction of the £56bn high-speed train line.
Transport chiefs were confronted over construction of a controversial vent shaft, to be erected between St Mary’s Catholic Primary School in Canterbury Road and several housing estates.
Those most severely affected include hundreds of residents living in blocks including Carlton House and Crown Court.
It’s another blow for those already struggling to cope with the large scale South Kilburn Regeneration Scheme currently taking place and the Peel Precinct project expected to start at the same time as HS2’s excavation work.
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The South Kilburn HS2 Action Group hosted the meeting chaired by Tulip Siddiq, MP for Hampstead and Kilburn, and attended by HS2 chiefs and Brent Council members.
Crown Court council tenant Tariq Irdris asked if he was able to move. The 42-year-old told the Brent & Kilburm Times: “The building is old and already in danger. This HS2 excavation work will make the building more dangerous, it’s going to be very deep I think.”
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Cllr Muhammed Butt, leader of Brent Council, felt he “had to step in” on hearing residents wanted to move away.
He said: “I’m edging on the side of residents.
“There’s a lot of regeneration taking place for the next 15 years or more and we must do all we can to safeguard the residents. “If he’s talking about moving out the area, we need to have a serious conversation.”
However, he was later challenged on why he petitioned HS2 to move the vent shaft from its original spot in a Queen’s Park car park in Salusbury Road.
Dee Woods, 51, co-founder of Granville Community Kitchen in nearby Carlton Vale, said: “It feels like state violence. Why couldn’t it have gone in Queen’s Park as initially intended? This community has already had a lot done to it. Young people just got up and left the meeting, all they see is their future being chopped up.”
Defending the move, Cllr Butt said: “We are looking after the best interests of our residents, we are building the best homes for our residents, safeguarding our residents and the future and the aspirations of our residents.”
Much of the meeting focused on how HS2 developers could limit noise and pollution. But answers appeared woefully short on key concerns surrounding noise insulation from construction work, the noise neighbours can expect when the shaft is completed, exact lorry routes and the final look of the 10 metre building.
HS2 chiefs confimed the number of lorries had been reduced by 40 per cent and they will be offering financial compensation to some households.
Properties directly facing the project could be in line for free double glazing - but only for one room. Those not facing construction work are not currently eligible for any noise insulation and protection.
For those who qualify, the kitchen and bathroom facing the work are not deemed as “habitable rooms”, nor are living rooms. People asked for any balconies leading off from their kitchen to be double glazed but Patricia Thompson, responsible for community engagement at HS2, insisted “currently we don’t offer that.”
HS2 chiefs also issued decibel limits on what constitutes noise, which Ms Siddiq MP asked to be reviewed taking in the concerns of all home dwellers around the site.
She said: “You need to genuinely explore the options to protect our residents.
“This spells years of desperation for them; you can’t leave some houses with insulation and others without.
“There are people who sleep in their living rooms and kitchens because they are so overcrowded. We need to have a proper assessment on housing and the requirements of noise and pollution.”
After the meeting Carlton House tenant Sid Nasef told the Times he was not told works would be happening when he signed his contract with the council three years ago.
The IT engineer fumed: “My son is autistic and very disturbed by noise.
“These are big entities coming here. At the next meeting I hope we’ve moved forward regards the double-glazing. We need triple glazing. I really hope HS2 puts the effort into that especially as the impact is so big.”
He added: “It’s the best meeting we’ve had because the MP was with us. With Tulip on board she can help us move forward. Without her we don’t have a chance against HS2 at all.”
Host Leslie Barson, of the action group, said: “It’s the most productive meeting we’ve had but there are still so many unknowns. HS2 are telling us things that change all the time, it’s still very unclear where we are.”
HS2 is yet to apply for planning permission for the work and is in discussion with Brent Council.