New transport secretary could hand Euston land to developers – even if HS2 is abandoned
Lendlease says area around station represents a 'unique opportunity'
28 August, 2019 — By Tom Foot
Grant Shapps and Lendlease’s vision
THE new transport secretary is set to decide whether £6billion of prize land around Euston should be handed over to developers, even if the controversial HS2 rail scheme is abandoned.
Fifty-seven acres around the station, which is owned by the government, has already been offered to private company Lendlease, but as part of a contract that hinged on building the new railway’s proposed new terminus. Lendlease said yesterday (Wednesday) it did not want to miss a “unique opportunity” to unlock the economic potential of the area.
It has already drawn up overhead pictures of how it would like to change the area.
But with the whole HS2 project now hanging in the balance amid concern over its mammoth costs to the public purse and a new review ordered by the government, Grant Shapps, recently appointed as Boris Johnson’s transport secretary, must decide what should happen to this land deal if the station is no longer required.
Lawyer Robert Latham, who has campaigned against HS2 for almost 10 years, said: “If HS2 does not come to Euston, the government will be anxious to use the land that they have acquired as a cash cow to set off against their costs. HS2 have acquired a lot of land that they only need during the construction phase: St James’s Gardens and Eskdale/Ainsdale and Silverdale.”
Plans to pause or cancel HS2 construction works in Euston, or stopping the line at Old Oak Common in west London, are being actively considered as part of a high-profile review of the project’s spiralling expense. It is due to conclude in October.
Responding to the government’s review, Camden Council leader Georgia Gould said: “If HS2 is scrapped completely, or if the line is terminated elsewhere, we would want our land back. With the land and the funding, we estimate that we could create thousands of homes and jobs in the Euston area.”
But a Lendlease spokesman said: “A project of this size can drive trade and growth and provide an economic stimulus to several major cities. Euston is already changing and failure to redevelop the area would miss a unique opportunity to unlock the full economic potential of this important part of the capital.”