Last Thursday, 11th June, members of the HS2 Hybrid Bill Select Committee visited parts of Buckinghamshire in the area around Aylesbury, including the National Trust properties at Hartwell House and Coombe Hill. The National Trust have written up about the visit on their blog.
In their article they say
…The planned HS2 route runs through the historic designed landscape at Hartwell, dividing the core designed garden. The National Trust’s proposed resolution is to shield the landscape including local communities west of Aylesbury from the noise and view of the trains using shallow, appropriately planted banks that incorporate noise barriers and blend seamlessly into this designed and nationally registered landscape.
These ‘Green Banks’ would fit more appropriately with the Historic Park and Garden and remove the need for separate noise barriers adjacent by integrating them. Other aspects of the proposal include; a landscaped and sensitively designed footbridge that avoids historic tree removal and blends into the Green Banks, and sensitive earthworks where HS2 plan them adjacent to Lower Hartwell to minimise earthworks and protect Hartwell Avenue.
It is of great importance that appropriate levels of mitigation are considered when developing the area. Hartwell is a special place enjoyed by many and valued by the community. It has been recognised by HS2 Ltd as ‘one of Buckinghamshire’s finest estates’ It has a remarkable international history stretching back almost one thousand years to the reign of Edward the Confessor…
They also visited Coombe Hill:
Members of the SC saw how HS2 will cross the landscape across the centre in the panoramic view from Coombe Hill, the NT took the opportunity to raise two main concerns:
- Firstly, light catching on moving trains, especially on the section immediately north of HS2 as it leaves the portal to the north side of Wendover.
- Secondly, the Stoke Mandeville Maintenance Loop is partly on a raised embankment and at the northern end goes through water meadows. The HS2 infrastructure includes gantries and night lighting which will impact on the views from Coombe Hill.
…Coombe Hill is the highest viewpoint within the Chilterns AONB and enjoys panoramic, long distance views over Aylesbury Vale and the woods surrounding Chequers. Once a part of the Chequers Estate it is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). It was highlighted to the Select Committee the importance of this site through the National Trust proposed improved mitigation for the Chilterns and Coombe Hill.
The National Trust carefully manage this site to allow public access as this site supports a very species rich example of chalk grassland typical of this part of the Chilterns (with juniper and areas of mixed scrub) and supports the entire UK population of the chalk grassland herb, fringed gentian. Coombe Hill is crossed by the Ridgeway Long Distance Footpath.