Vision for HS2 around Aylesbury

Coombe Hill will be affected by HS2 © Neil Harris

Coombe Hill will be affected by HS2

Latest update 19.02.2013 15:05

Proposals for an improved design for HS2 around Aylesbury, if it goes ahead, have been revealed by the National Trust today.

Whilst being neutral over the principle of HS2, we oppose the specific proposed route in the Aylesbury area and through the Chilterns AONB.

This is because of its landscape and other impacts, especially on Hartwell House, where it would require the acquisition of the Trust’s land.

The plans revealed show how the impact on hundreds of people’s lives and the special places they care about could be reduced if HS2 Ltd plans for mitigation on a big enough scale.

  • This would include acquiring additional land either side of the railway line to give room for the necessary landscaping and other measures, such as creating a 600m long ’land bridge’ for the route as it crosses through the Hartwell House estate and next to Fairford Leys - where many local people will be heavily affected by the railway.
  • This would involve building the land up on either side of the line, then placing a lid on top, with vegetation and tree planting covering it. Wide, landscaped embankments which would screen trains and conceal noise barriers and security fencing also feature.

A range of specialist consultants, including experts in rail engineering, landscape character, landscape architecture, noise and hydrology have been brought in by us to advise on the best possible mitigation over an 8km stretch of the line from Stoke Mandeville, around Aylesbury and up to Waddesdon.

Since the route for HS2 was published in January this year, we have been talking to local authorities, parish councils, landowners, other charities and organisations, as well as HS2 Ltd, aiming for proposals which take into account the views of as many people as possible who are affected by the line.

Peter Nixon, director of conservation for the National Trust, said:
'Although HS2 is still not a foregone conclusion, and we object to the route chosen, in case it does go ahead it’s sensible for us to negotiate for the best scheme which minimises its impact for as many people as possible and on the special places they care about.

'We hope our proposals, which draw on our practical experience elsewhere, raise expectations of what could be achieved.

'There is still a lot of detail to work up. This would have to be done with HS2 Ltd, the community, local authorities and landowners and we believe a collaborative approach here will deliver the best scheme if HS2 does go ahead.

'We hope that HS2 Ltd and the Government will adopt this scheme, however we have also been clear that if this is not the case we would be prepared to petition Parliament in order to try and get the scheme included in the necessary legislation.'

The current proposed route of HS2 will pass directly through the Hartwell House estate which has an international history and significance stretching back almost 1,000 years to the reign of Edward the Confessor.

It also passes within view of Coombe Hill in the Chilterns; through the Waddesdon Estate which has a Victorian garden thought to be one of best in Britain; and close to Claydon House, once home to Florence Nightingale. 

The scheme has already received backing from a number of local groups.

Councillor Steven Lambert, Chairman of Coldharbour Parish Council, said: 'While we continue to oppose HS2 and support the need for a Judicial Review of it, we are pleased the National Trust has been pushing for proper mitigation around Aylesbury if HS2 is to go ahead. The needs of local people and our local environment need to be given equal weighting to any perceived economic benefits of a final scheme.

'We’ve been in discussion with the National Trust from an early stage on their thinking about HS2 in our area and we think this scheme would provide ample noise and visual intrusion mitigation for both sides of the track and opportunities for increased access to a new green space.'

The plans also include the provision of new flood meadow habitats, improved recreational areas and more access to the countryside for the people of Aylesbury.