Nothing can be more annoying for a politician then the sense that their officials are laughing at them – especially if they were trying to be taken seriously. But that seems to be what is happening with Euston.
A month after John Hayes, transport minister, threatened to leave officials “quaking” over Hayes’ commitment to get the plans for Euston out by September, the latest batch of plans were shown at a meeting with Camden Council on Monday.
John Hayes had said “we do not want some vile, low-budget, modern monstrosity”, but a “neoclassical building on a grand scale”: instead of a grand new building, these plans are much more like the “lean-to affixed to a shed” earlier HS2 Ltd plans for Euston.
While we don’t mind his officials laughing at John Hayes, this new version is a bad joke for the people of Camden.
Details were first made public in a Camden New Journal article, which said
HS2 chiefs have performed an “astonishing” triple u-turn after appearing to ditch the plan to demolish Euston Station in favour of an old scheme that was scrapped last year following an intervention by the Chancellor George Osborne….
The slides show a return to the idea of wedging a shed containing six high speed rail platforms on the west side of Euston Station, which would open in 2026. Five more platforms would be built inside the current station after 2034 in a move that could extend building works in Camden into the 2040s.
Camden Council has since issued their view of the latest proposal, with Councillor Sarah Hayward, Leader of Camden Council, saying:
“We’re pretty appalled by what we were shown at the Euston Community meeting on Monday night. Government ministers promised that the community would be consulted on options for a comprehensive redevelopment of the station. Instead we’ve been presented with a fait accompli that extends the end date of the building works from 2026 to nearly 2040 and does nothing to deal with the current substandard station.
“Sadly, although I’m shocked, I’m not surprised and we’ll need to work out the next steps. If this scheme goes ahead Camden will be blighted for decades and there’ll be no extra jobs or homes at Euston station.”
In addition, this new set of plans goes back to the ideas criticised by both George Osborne and David Higgins, chair of HS2 Ltd. Last year, George Osborne told the Evening Standard: “I’m thinking that maybe we should go for a really big re-development of Euston.” And in the HS2 Plus report, David Higgins, chair of HS2 Ltd said we should be “more ambitious about Euston to create a station that lasts”, and was looking to build it with finical contributions from development companies.
Rather than Hayes’ grandiose plans it seems Frankenstein’s monster of bolted on bits is the inspiration for HS2 Ltd.
PS Camden Council say the plans would:
Adopt a phased approach that would see:
o The first 6 High speed lines built to the west of the station by 2026
o The second 5 high speed lines built within the station by 2033
o The re-development of the classic (eastern) side of the station being re-developed by Network Rail at an unspecified time in the future.