This bulletin provides an overview of current HS2 matters, as well as an update from our last report in June. Features in this edition include news on the government’s review into HS2, Schedule 17 submissions, and ongoing works.
General Project Team Update
Since the last update in June, the project has seen a period of early works investigations, whilst South Bucks’ first Schedule 17 application has come in. The Project team has continued to work effectively on the scheme, with workloads starting to increase as a number of major Schedule 17s are due to come in soon. Our planner is now working full time on the project to allow him to devote himself to preparing for and dealing with these applications, as well as the other planning applications that have come in for works outside of Act limits.
In addition, the HS2 project leads from Buckinghamshire’s district councils and the county council met recently to start discussions of work on the project under the new Buckinghamshire Council, and further updates will be provided as this work progresses.
Government Review into HS2
Douglas Oakervee, who will be leading the review
The Government announced on 21st August 2019 that a major independent review would be launched into the costs and benefits of the HS2 rail scheme. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced the review, saying that it will be used by the Government to inform a “go or no-go” decision by the end of the year. The review represents a major milestone for the future of the project, with a number of options on the table including cancelling the scheme altogether. It will also consider the viability of subsuming Phase 2a into Phase 1, cancelling Phase 2 and moving the London terminus to Old Oak Common.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson first mooted the possibility of looking into the future of HS2 during his campaign for Conservative party leader, in which he told a party hustings event that he’d asked Douglas Oakervee to conduct this review if he were to win. Johnson had long been a critic of the project which cuts through his constituency of Uxbridge & South Ruislip. However he seemed to signal a change in attitude during a TV debate with leadership rival Jeremy Hunt, agreeing with the eventual runner up that the scheme should not be scrapped.
Oakervee will chair the review, with Labour peer Lord Berkeley as his deputy. Oakervee was Chairman of HS2 Ltd from April 2012 to the end of 2013, during which time the High Speed Rail (London to Midlands) Act was prepared to be presented as a hybrid bill to the House of Commons. Lord Berkeley on the other hand has been critical of HS2 in the past, accusing ministers of misleading Parliament of the true cost of the project as recently as 28th July 2019. The rest of the review board is made up of Stephen Glaister, Michele Dix, John Cridland, Peter Hendy, Andrew Sentance, Tony Travers, Andy Street and Patrick Harley. Each member of the team will focus on a specific area of interest, feeding into and being consulted on the report’s final conclusions. However, they will not have a right of veto in the event that consensus cannot be reached.
The board will assemble and test all of the existing evidence for the project as a whole, in order to reach conclusions on the following issues:
• Whether HS2 Ltd is in a position to deliver the project effectively;
• The full range of benefits of the project;
• The full range of costs of the project;
• Whether the assumptions behind the business case are realistic;
• How much realistic potential there is for cost reductions through changes to the scope; phasing or specification
• The costs of reprioritising, cancelling or de-scoping the project;
• Whether and how the project could be reprioritised;
• Whether any improvements would benefit the integration of HS2, Northern Powerhouse Rail and other rail projects in the north or Midlands and
• Any lessons from the project for other major projects.
Support in determining views on these matters will be provided by the Department for Transport, and the review team will be provided with any papers or persons they request. They are due to report back in autumn 2019.
Buckinghamshire County Council has reported the following schedule for Schedule 4 applications for works relating to highways:
North Orbital Road A412 - Align will be carrying out the following: erection of 2.4m hoarding to prevent access, placement of temporary hardstanding and material stockpiles, protection of and/or diversion of existing utilities, vegetation clearance and modification of the existing gate. A traffic management plan isn’t needed, besides the aforementioned security hoardings. Due to finish on 31/10/19
North Orbital Road, Denham Way – Align has installed post mounted access signage, which will stay up until 31/10/19.
Bridleway Chalfont St Peter/44/1 will be closed for boundary fencing and installation of the power supply for tunnel boring machines, to be carried out by Fusion’s subcontractor Amey. A diversion route will be made available via CSP/16/1, Denham Lane and CSP/43/2. This is due to be completed on 31/01/20.
A 30mph speed limit has been put in place on Chesham Lane, Chalfont St Peter for Align access. This will last until 22/12/23.
Fusion will be installing a Newt Grid at Great Missenden footpath GMI/13/3. The public right of way will remain open, with pedestrians being marshalled through the works. This will be in place until 22/11/20.
National Grid will be carrying out overhead line restraining works at North Farm Lane. Traffic management will include road closure and a diversion, as well as a stop/go control. This is due to be concluded on 13/09/ 19. There will also be signage present informing road users of site access traffic and this will remain until 31/12/19.
Chalfont Lane, West Hyde will be temporarily closed for use as a construction access/egress for HS2 works carried out by Fusion. This will involve the closure of the road, although residential access will be maintained at all times. This will last until 04/01/20.
Trial trench evaluation works will be taking place by the A413 Amersham Road, leading to a lane closure with a temporary speed limit of 40mph in place. Traffic management has also been brought in for Little Missenden Footpath 40, with the use of pedestrian barriers, trackway matting, and at least a 1m width maintained on the Public Right of Way. This is due to be finished by 19/12/19.
Schedule 17 Applications
The first Schedule 17 application in South Bucks was submitted in June. The request was for approval of plans and specifications for earthworks at the south cutting and Tilehouse Lane, Denham cutting of the Chiltern tunnel, and the north embankment of the Colne Valley viaduct. The site is mostly situated within Three Rivers district, with only a small portion in South Bucks. The application was approved on 16th August 2019.
Meanwhile, the planned submission of the Schedule 17 for the Colne Valley viaduct has been delayed again, with its new expected date being in late September/early October.
In Chiltern on the other hand, the team continues to prepare to provide pre-application advice to HS2 and its contractors for the vent shafts (Align) and the South Heath cutting (EK). These submissions are expected to come in towards the end of 2019.
In addition, a Town and Country Planning Application (TCPA) was submitted on behalf of HS2 on 7th August 2019 for a haul road to provide access to HGVs and LGVs to the Chalfont St Peter vent shaft. This was proposed as an alternative route for construction traffic which will otherwise go through the village, causing major disruption to stakeholders including the Epilepsy Society and Robertswood School. A TCPA application has been submitted rather than a Schedule 17 as the proposed site for this is outside Act limits. It has been deemed a major application, meaning there will be a determination period of 16 weeks. All of the works will be carried out by Align if permission is granted.
Works in Chiltern district are mostly focused around Great Missenden as Fusion continue work on the haul road, as well as roundabout improvements. Hoardings have now been put up at the site to obscure the view of works from the road.
National Grid is also undertaking works here. They are carrying out ground investigations in anticipation of relocating low power voltage lines.
Align meanwhile are undertaking ground investigations at a number of locations, including the sites for the Amersham and Little Missenden vent shafts, as well as the site of the proposed Chalfont St Peter haul road. Works on the vent shaft are scheduled to follow completion of the haul road if it is granted planning permission.
In SBDC, works have been focused on preparatory works for the proposed site for the Colne Valley viaduct. Align has been carrying out ground investigations, vegetation clearance and load test piling at the Denham Waterski Club.
Improvements have also been made to Shire Lane, Chalfont St Peter including road resurfacing, by Osbornes.
Community and Business Fund
£40 million has been made available for applications throughout the construction of Phase One. From this pot, £15 million has been made available for the Central Area (Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Warwickshire, Staffordshire, Northamptonshire and Oxfordshire). This fund has been split into two different grants; the Community and Environment Fund (CEF) and the Business and Local Economy Fund (BLEF). To date, Buckinghamshire based projects have received £1,223,153 of CEF funding and £267,403 of BLEF.
The Chilterns - still open for business!
Since the last bulletin, two projects in Chiltern and South Bucks districts have received funding through these schemes. The Chilterns Conservation Board was awarded £120,303 in BLEF funding for their project titled ‘Open for Business – Promoting tourism in the central Chilterns corridor.’ This is a three-year initiative aimed at promoting tourism in the central Chilterns area despite disruption caused by HS2, and will feature a number of events including food & walking festivals. In addition, Little Missenden Parish Council has secured £28,000 in CEF grants to provide improvements to Little Kingshill playground. These improvements will include multiple access points as well as sensory elements.
With such a large pool of money available for local communities and businesses, the HS2 team continues to greatly encourage local groups to apply for funding from across both districts, and we will actively support applicants through their submissions. The independent charity in charge of administering the funds, Groundwork, has emphasised that priority will be given to applications which fully meet the fund’s criteria of Need, Disruption, Planning and Sustainability/Legacy as well as projects nearest to the line of the route for Phase One.
Community Forum Meetings
CDC held their last community liaison forum in March 2019
Since the last update, no further community forums have been held at either CDC or SBDC. However, each district will host a forum during November. Chiltern’s event will be held on Monday 11th November, whilst South Bucks’ will be the Tuesday 26th November. Both forums will run from 6-8pm, and will be held in the respective councils’ chamber. If you would like to reserve a place for either event, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
PowerPoints from all previous community forums are still available to view on our HS2 information website www.councilshs2information.org
CEF and BLEF Interactive Project Map
Chiltern and South Bucks' HS2 Information Page
Government's HS2 Homepage