On Friday the 26th June the High Speed 2 Select Committee and Constituency MP John Bercow visited a number of sites along the HS2 route in Buckinghamshire to hear about the concerns of those affected by the operation and construction of HS2.
Whilst visiting this section of the route they stopped at two National Trust places; the Grand Lodge at Waddesdon Manor and Claydon House, which are affected by the current proposals.
Members of the Committee met with the National Trust project team and representatives from the Rothschild Foundation, Waddesdon Estate and Claydon Estate as well as other local interested parties to discuss the impacts of HS2.
Ben Middlemiss, Senior HS2 Project and Stakeholder at the National Trust, said: “We were pleased to welcome the members of the Select Committee to our places, where they can truly appreciate the uniqueness and importance of each site.”
“We welcomed the commitment, in answer to the Rt Hon John Bercow MP’s direct question to HS2 Ltd representatives during the visit, that HS2 Ltd intends to improve the mitigation as we have proposed at Waddesdon and Grand Lodge. HS2 Ltd now need to pursue this and put these words into action”
“Claydon has a very tranquil and currently unspoilt environment. The visit has been excellent opportunity for the Select Committee to experience this”
Waddesdon Manor – Grand Lodge
Waddesdon is the third most visited National Trust property in the country receiving 393,000 visitors annually, which equates to £4.3m of business to the National Trust alone. Through the future growth of Aylesbury and surrounding areas this number is projected to increase to 500,000 by 2025.
The development will greatly impact Grand Lodge. The lodge was designed to be an outward facing feature of the estate to highlight the estate’s entrance as a visual marker to people passing by. Grand Lodge underwent a £700,000 refurbishment in 2012 for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
The proposed realignment will divert visitors and commuters away from Grand Lodge. This will diminish the purpose of the building and leave the legacy of a major A road in the immediate vicinity and sensitive setting of Grand Lodge. Correctly downscaling the remaining roads will enhance the setting of Grand Lodge for walkers and cyclists.
The realigned A41 crosses over HS2, sitting relatively high in the landscape with the added intrusion of the additional lightsources. Increased planting around Blackgrove Road / A41 roundabout would help mitigate the impacts of light sources on the Grand Lodge.
During the afternoon the Select Committee visited Claydon House, which will be affected by HS2 and the proposed Infrastructure Maintenance Depot as well as East West Rail and the Greatmoor Energy from Waste Plant.
Claydon House dates back to the 1750s, when Ralph Verney set out to build a country house of extraordinary grandeur. Claydon House has a rich history with the Verney Family occupying Claydon for 550 years. The house runs an educational programme with 19 local schools and over 1,000 students, which highlights its ties with Florence Nightingale. In 1858 Harry Verney married Parthenope Nightingale; Florence Nightingale’s sister. Florence was given several rooms in the house to allow her to work on her books and meet with important people.
The house is situated in rural Buckinghamshire in a noticeably tranquil area. HS2 Ltd acknowledges that: “Tranquillity is considered to be high due to a low level of settlement, relative low number of publicly accessible highways, and an infrequent freight train service.”
As a result: “Claydon House Estate and Parkland has a national level value. Therefore, this area has a high degree of sensitivity.”
To help preserve the character of the property it is important appropriate measures are taken to minimise the impact of the IMD. To screen the 2km long IMD we are asking for visual screening, in the form of earth mounding and planting, sufficient to remove light pollution at night. We are also asking for HS2 Ltd to work in conjunction with East West Rail and Energy from Waste to produce a consolidated approach to managing these developments to minimise the impact on this rural location, the local community and roads.
In both instances, Claydon and Waddesdon Grand Lodge the National Trust want greater interaction with HS2 to further discuss mitigating factors and the most efficient resolutions to the National Trust’s concerns.