Residents in Kilburn accuse Brent Council of ‘stitching them up’ over HS2 plans

Pauline Fredericks, from Carlton House, next to the Canterbury Works site

Pauline Fredericks, from Carlton House, next to the Canterbury Works site - Credit: Archant

Residents fighting plans to build a controversial HS2 vent shaft in Kilburn have accused Brent Council of a ‘stitch up’.

Two joint information events between the council and HS2 at South Kilburn Studios were held this week to explain to residents why they petitioned for the shaft to be moved from Salusbury Road, in Queens Park, to Canterbury Road, next to St Mary’s Catholic Primary school.

An ‘additional provision’ a change to the hybrid bill act, was submitted to Parliament on Monday actioning Brent Council’s petition that Salusbury Road is a valuable part of it’s South Kilburn Regeneration Programme. Campaigners now have only six weeks to submit their own petition.

David Aird, a resident of nearby Chichester Road with two young children, said: “There’s evidence of procedural impropriety behind the whole campaign, a decision was made by the school headteacher, the new chair of governors and the Catholic Diocese surveyor not to oppose the HS2 vent shaft on the 3rd July.

“This decision was made without the consent of parents and the other governors, and this ‘support from the school” is one of main petitioning reasons behind Brent’s petition against the Queen’s Park ar park site.

Parents are too scared to speak out, there’s an injustice happening in their name.”

Pete Firmin, chair of residents association in Alpha, Gorefield and Canterbury estates opposite Canterbury Works claims residents and parents of a nearby school were never consulted over the plans.

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He added: “Brent Council are putting their financial interests above the welfare of the school and the local residents. They haven’t consulted with us at all. Brent Council have made no attempt to consult with the residents opposite the site.

Infact we wanted to present our case to the council when it considered the HS2 in March of last year and they refused to let us address the council. It’s a stitch up.”

Opponents to the shaft have spoken of the noise, dust, congestion, environmental health hazards and disruption to the school and community for six years, the time it will take to finish the project.

A Brent Council spokesman sent a joint statement with Diocese of Westminster.

He said: “It is for the developer HS2 to consult with parents at St Mary’s about its proposals and we respect the right of parents to respond independently of the school and as local residents with their views. The focus of the school and its leadership team is on improvement and ensuring that all the pupils at St Mary’s RC Primary have the best possible education and start in life.”

Councillor Margaret McLennan, lead member for housing and development at Brent Council, said: “We welcome the decision by HS2 to accept Canterbury Works as a more suitable site for the proposed works, in response to the petition we submitted to them last year. It means that much needed new and affordable homes in the South Kilburn regeneration area can still be delivered.

“At the information-sharing events held at South Kilburn Studios with HS2 this month, we met with almost one hundred local residents to answer questions and queries and talk through the plans.”

“We have also met with St. Mary’s School about the relocation and if the scheme goes ahead we will continue to work with HS2 and the school to ensure that any adverse impacts on the school are mitigated.”

“We would never put the health of children at risk. The studies we undertook specifically looked at the impact on air quality and found that the impacts associated with emissions during construction and operation would be insignificant.”

“By working closely with the school and HS2 we have considerably more scope to secure mitigating measures during construction than if this potential development site comes forward for an alternative development.”

Patricia Thompson, HS2 Ltd senior engagement manager, said: “The local information events have given people a chance to find out more about the reasons for the relocation of the ventilation shaft, from the original site and the construction at the new site. We will continue our conversations with the local community and listen to their concerns.”

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