Kilburn community gear up for tense meeting with HS2 chiefs over controversial vent shaft

Protest builds outside St Mary's Catholic Primary School in Canterbury Road in 2015 to stop HS2 shaf

Protest builds outside St Mary's Catholic Primary School in Canterbury Road in 2015 to stop HS2 shaft being moved next to it Pic credit: Angela Blake - Credit: Archant

Years of dust, noise and pollution around homes and a primary school are set to be the top concerns at a meeting with HS2 chiefs scheduled for tomorrow night in Kilburn.

The community remain “helpless and unsure” about a controversial vent shaft due be erected next to St Mary’s Catholic Primary School in Canterbury Road as part of the government’s flagship high-speed rail project.

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.

Members of the South Kilburn HS2 Action Group and HS2 chiefs will go head-to-head at a meeting chaired by Tulip Siddiq at The Granville in Carlton Vale from 6pm to 7,30pm.

Leslie Barson, a member of the action group, said: “We are asking for clear information and a better deal for residents for suffering an estimated six to seven years of building works behind their homes.

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“The work at its height will have 100 lorries a day entering and leaving the site. As far as we know HS2 have not yet applied to Brent for planning permission for either the lorry route or the exact site.

“HS2 has only offered secondary glazing for ‘habitable’ rooms facing the site, not the balconies facing the site or rooms facing Albert Road where the lorries will likely travel down.”

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She added: “The whole process again is one of uncertainty, lack of credible information and crumbs being offered to residents who are set to suffer years of disruption, noise and dust. The whole process stinks.”

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 planned to put its giant ventilation shaft in a car park in Salusbury Road, Queen’s Park.

But in 2015 neighbours accused Brent Council of a “stitch-up” after it objected on the grounds that Salusbury Road was a “valuable part” of its South Kilburn Regeneration Programme – and instead proposed the site next to the school.

Two petitions received more than 600 signatures.

One parent said at the time: “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.”

A spokesman for HS2 said it has not yet formally applied for planning permission, adding: “Safety, efficiency and minimising disruption to local residents and the local school are at the heart of HS2’s approach to the works in Kilburn.

“That’s why we’re working closely with Brent Council on establishing the lorry routes to help manage the flow of traffic into the area and limit disruption to other local road users.

“A number of properties in the Kilburn area are eligible for noise insulation and we are working with residents and property owners offering them secondary glazing in habitable rooms overlooking construction works. We are considering each property on a case by case basis to find solutions that balance the needs of residents, prioritising rooms overlooking work sites.

“We provided a grant to St. Mary’s Catholic School to fit secondary glazing and this work has now been completed.”

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