‘It’s killed us’: Camden businesses count cost of HS2 disruption as government scales back Euston plans

Boards at Euston. Photograph: Julia Gregory

Politicians and businesses want to see urgent action in Euston after the Prime Minister ended uncertainty about the future of the HS2 station there.

Rishi Sunak told the Conservative party conference that he is scrapping the next step of the HS2 rail link in the north of England.

He said there will be an HS2 station at Euston, but it will be scaled back. He also announced a development zone in the area.

Sunak told supporters: “The management of HS2 will no longer be responsible for the Euston site. There must be some accountability for the mistakes made, for the mismanagement of this project.”

The cost of the proposed new station had soared to nearly twice the initial budget.

Frustrated businesses have faced years of disruption since building work started near the existing mainline station.

They said diversions have affected the amount of passing trade.

Chris Georgiou, who runs Speedy’s Sandwich Bar and Café on North Gower Street, said: “It’s killed our business.

“Our businesses are going to be disrupted for years to come. We used to get a lot of passing trade from cab drivers coming out of Euston station.”

Direct routes are now fenced off and diversions are in place because of the HS2 building work.

The 38-year-old café is below Sherlock Holmes’ flat in the hit television series, and tourism has helped the business survive.

“We’ve been lucky with Sherlock,” said Georgiou.

He said the boarding beside the diversions should come down and the route near the station should be opened for pedestrians and traffic again.

Council leader Labour’s Georgia Gould said: “We have avoided the worst-case scenario of Euston being left abandoned in its current state. However, we now must ensure that Camden, our partners, and the local community shape its future.”

She said the building work has caused a lot of upset.

Hundreds of residents from the council’s Regent’s Park estate complained about noise and dust.

Many have moved after the government paid compensation to rehouse them.

Cllr Gould said: “Our residents and businesses have endured years of disruption and blight – homes have been knocked down, businesses lost, and open space destroyed.”

Camden Council also lost the battle to keep a dedicated bike lane open on Euston Road, which Transport for London said was needed for lorries delivering building material to the HS2 building site.

The Prime Minister plans to create a new Euston development zone, “building thousands of new homes for the next generation of homeowners, new business opportunities and a station that delivers the capacity we need”.

Cllr Gould said: “The Prime Minister’s proposal to take £6.5 billion from Euston must not lead to the promises made to our community on affordable housing, jobs and investment locally being broken.”

She warned: “What is clear though is that opportunities will be diminished by this project being cut short at Birmingham. Manchester’s residents and businesses have been let down today and cutting phase two will have a hugely detrimental effect on not just Manchester, but Camden and Birmingham.”

Camden’s Liberal Democrat opposition leader, Tom Simon, said: “There have been so many broken promises and assurances from the Conservatives over the years. The redevelopment of Euston, with the interests of the local community at its heart, was supposed to be the payback for Camden for years of disruption and chaos.

“Now there is a danger it will become a free-for-all, driven by which developer can make the most money.”

Camden Conservatives opposed the disruption HS2 brought to Camden.

Group leader, Cllr Gio Spinella, said: “We look forward to understanding in greater detail the new plans and what this new development company hopes to achieve. It is our hope that anything put forward is done with the active involvement of the community.”

He said a “significant portion” of up to 10,000 new homes in the new Euston Quarter are affordable and include social housing, provision for schools, GP places, policing, and business and commerce.

Pub chain J D Wetherspoon is planning to open the Captain Flinders pub on Eversholt Street near Euston in December.

Company chairman Tim Martin said: “I don’t understand the case for HS2.”

He thought travel gains from the high-speed link would be “marginal” and worried it was a “political vanity project”.

He added: “I don’t think adding HS2 will make a vast difference to our pub site, the Captain Flinders, since the vicinity of Euston is already very busy with train, tube and bus connections nearby.”

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