|Why HS2 Will Blight Ealing
Campaigners against the rail link outline their views
The people of Ealing are drifting towards a problem that will impoverish the borough as a whole and diminish its value in the eyes of potential residents and businesses.
The proposed High Speed Rail link between London and Birmingham (HS2), with its potential for temporary traffic chaos and long term property blight, should make everyone in the area take notice. We face cuts in services, increases in taxes, a rising cost of living yet the government plans to spend up to £33 billion pounds on a service that will only benefit those based at the ends of the route.
From Northolt to Hanger Lane, those presently living alongside a quiet Underground line are coming to terms with the prospect of 400 metre long trains passing their homes every four minutes. Some who were aware of the threat have sold their homes or are in the process of doing so. Others are gathering support to fight the plans imposed by a Secretary of State who has described them as “nimbys”.
Property blight can affect an area for many years, as seen in the case of a third runway for Heathrow, so these residents have every right to worry. Homes will lose their current value from the moment the project is confirmed. Those who rent out these properties will find that rental values are affected. These areas may become home to those who cannot afford to live anywhere else. Council tax revenues will drop along with values. The inevitable impact of noise and vibrations on the physical and mental health of residents trapped in houses they cannot sell may also prove expensive.
HS2 will require the construction of several new bridges across some of the borough’s most heavily used roads. Serious congestion is likely, especially as the work could take a long time. Greenford Road is a main artery, running parallel to Oldfield Lane North. Both these roads are scheduled to have the bridges across them replaced, one immediately next to Greenford Station.
Newsagents and takeaways near stations, who rely on passing trade, will suffer. Small businesses like these notice a fall in takings if the pavement is being repaired or the parking suspended outside their door for a few days. Months or even years of construction work could close them down.
In theory HS2 is part of the bigger picture, encouraging greater use of rail rather than cars or planes, though little has been done to promote the shabby, unreliable local rail service, between Greenford and Paddington via Ealing Broadway. The fares rise relentlessly for those using it and there seems to be a constant underlying threat of reduction, even closure, though it is vital to many who work locally and in central London. How many in Ealing will be likely or able to afford to use High Speed Rail?
Greenford Station is a stopping point in the Capital Ring walk, described by the Transport for London website as “a surprisingly green walking route that encircles central London”. The route is intended to draw visitors to the area but it is hard to see the appeal of a ramble past an incessantly noisy railway line. Spare a thought for Perivale Wood, a remnant of ancient woodland which will be right next to it. HS2 will have a profoundly negative effect on the environment along its entire length.
Ealing is one of the most attractive places in the UK, typified by elegant Victorian and 30’s architecture with many green open spaces, but nothing is done to promote it as a destination for foreign tourists. It has the seventeenth highest level of child poverty of all London boroughs but cuts are being made to programmes such as Sure Start. Libraries and policing will be affected by the shrinkage in government funding yet the same administration intends to inflict on us a project that will only promote the interests of a small minority who live elsewhere.
Ealing can only lose if HS2 goes through.
A petition is available from firstname.lastname@example.org or 07570863285.
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7 April 2011