New wetlands in place of golf course and a ‘lid’ on the track: Better HS2 mitigation could avoid misery for 1,000 homes around Aylesbury, claims National Trust

A scene from the National Trust exhibition. Below, some of the documents released
A scene from the National Trust exhibition. Below, some of the documents released
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The owner of Hartwell House and Claydon House is calling for millions to be spent reducing the impact of the proposed HS2 line along an 8km stretch from Stoke Mandeville to Waddesdon.

The National Trust has threatened to ‘petition Parliament’ if it does not get its way over its modifications to the scheme, which would see an eight metre-tall landscaped embankment built either side of the track and a ‘lid’ over the top.

National Trust exhibition about alternative HS2 plans Fairford Leys

National Trust exhibition about alternative HS2 plans Fairford Leys

The plan would conceal the line’s noise barriers, electric pylons and security fencing. It has been drawn up following discussions with rail engineering experts and residents long the route.

The trust estimate the improved mitigation could protect around 1,000 homes within 500 metres of the track. However, they are currently unable to put a price-tag on the changes, although it is likely it would run into the millions.

The proposals would also see Aylesbury Golf Club in Fairford Leys replaced with a wetlands habitat and recreational facilities to offer some benefit to those living near the line.

It is likely to be seen as a test case for the government’s commitment to mitigation measures for those affected by large infrastructure projects in the future.

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The HS2 line will pass roughly 400 metres from Hartwell and the proposed Calvert maintainence depot will be 800 metres from Claydon House.

Hartwell House makes £300,000 a year, which is used by the National Trust to fund its various projects around the country. The trust is concerned that the current proposals will affect the house through noise, visual intrusion, potential vibration and loss of business.

Officially, the trust says it is ‘neutral over the principle of HS2’ but ‘opposes the specific proposed route in the Aylesbury area’.

Peter Nixon, the trust’s director of conservation, 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.

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“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 a thousand 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 one of the best Victorian gardens 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.”

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