|Ben Fogle Backs Save Our Scrubs Campaigners|
|Residents fear HS2 plans threaten protected open space
Broadcaster and writer Ben Fogle has joined local people in campaigning to save part of Wormwood Scrubs which is threatened by the proposed HS2 rail hub at Old Oak Common.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Ben describes the Scrubs as the place he goes to escape the hustle and bustle of the City, adding: " But this unique urban Garden of Eden may come under threat if the controversial HS2 fast-link rail project between London and Birmingham goes ahead.
" A proposed terminus, and the accompanying redevelopment, will encroach on this bushland and change the dynamic of its nature, transforming it from a scrub to a manicured metropolitan green space."
Local residents, including the Friends of Wormwood Scrubs have already formed a group called Save Our Scrubs, which points out that an "aspirational image" of the area included in the Mayor of London's consultation document Old Oak - A Vision for the Future shows that a chunk has been taken out of the north west corner by the rail line and says: " Our common land should not be sacrificed to the developers."
Ben Fogle's intervention comes at the same time as an announcement that Mayor Boris Johnson is to set up an Olympic-style regeneration agency called the The Mayoral Development Corporation in Old Oak Common, or MDC to transform Old Oak Common into a thriving new district. He wants to use Crossrail links and the planned HS2 route, which will converge at Old Oak Common to spur the creation of a "mini-Manhattan" consisting of skyscrapers and apartments being built around the station.
Hammersmith and Fulham Council is endorsing the plans, saying that vast tracts of semi-derelict industrial land could be transformed with up to 19,000 new homes and 90,000 jobs thanks to the major improvement in accessibility that HS2 will bring.
Cllr Nicholas Botterill, H&F Council Leader, says: "HS2 has the potential to act as a catalyst to create much-needed new homes, jobs and opportunities in one of London's poorest areas. We have heard a lot about how HS2 will bridge the north-south divide and regenerate parts of northern England and the Midlands but it has also the potential to transform rundown inner London neighbourhoods right on our doorstep.
"We will continue engaging with HS2 and the Government over the coming months to ensure that the HS2 proposals deliver the optimal benefits for the borough’s residents."
The council has a page dedicated to the HS2 plans here which includes a response form in which it urges residents to show their support.
Local MP Andy Slaughter, however, is also voicing concerns about the proposals, tweeting @hammersmithandy: " HS2 and Crossrail coming to Old Oak is good news but we need homes for Londoners not more luxury flats for investors.
Boris plans for 'Manhattan' at Old Oak mean building on Wormwood Scrubs, a protected open space.
No one asked my constituents (or me) about Boris' plan to seize control of 100 acres at Old Oak. Democracy in action."
You can sign the petition, which already has almost 3,000 signatures here.
December 2, 2013