HS2 – What to expect: Changing views

Above: View from near Kingash of Wendover Dean viaduct''Middle: The embankment on countryside near Walton Court''Bottom: School Lane in Calvert
Above: View from near Kingash of Wendover Dean viaduct''Middle: The embankment on countryside near Walton Court''Bottom: School Lane in Calvert

It is the chocolate box image of the Chilterns.

From an elevated spot nears Kingsash you can see a beautiful patchwork of lush farmland, woodland and rolling hills – a view that has changed little for centuries.

But by 2026 all that could change.

Fields near Walton Court showing HS2 embankment

Fields near Walton Court showing HS2 embankment

The huge Wendover Dean viaduct, 18 metres high and 100 metres long, wil now dominate the view.

The viaduct is one of the starkest examples of how views will change in the Vale if HS2 is built.

But head north-west to the fringes of Aylesbury and the impact is less immediate.

On the outskirts of Walton Court on the Round Aylesbury Walk footpath you will be able to see the embankment in the middleground, alongside all the overhead line equipment above.

Before and after shots of School Lane in Calvert

Before and after shots of School Lane in Calvert

The embankment will cut out the farmland skyline in the distance, but (and this sort of thing is subjective) it would be difficult to argue the new view is hideous, especially if you had never seen what it was like before.

HS2 Ltd has produced dozens of ‘before and after’ shots showing the visual impact of the track – and for many of the pictures it is a case of spot the difference.

However, Penny Gaines from the Stop HS2 action group said the visual impact of the scheme will be devastating and warned against paying too much credence to these photo montages.

“They have been done to minimise the impact on the area,” she said.

“They do not reflect the reality of the raw visual impact.”

There are a number of ways HS2 will change views across the Vale.

Most obvious is the track itself, most commonly on embankment or within cuttings, but also on bridges and viaducts.

There will of course be the trains, which will thunder past every few minutes.

Then there are the noise fence barriers and the overhead equipment which runs along the line.

Perhaps less obvious is the effect the removal of vegetation and other structures to make way for HS2 will have in opening up views.

HS2 Ltd says embankments and cuttings have been shaped so as ‘to integrate the proposed scheme into the character of the surrounding landscape.

They also claim that in many places vegetation will grow back, hiding much of the scheme within 15 years.

However Mrs Gaines said: “This has to be maintained and the whole issue is who is going to do this. Around HS1 in Kent that maintenance has not been happening as was expected.”


> Old Risborough Road, Stoke Mandeville:

Embankment, overhead lines and noise fence barriers clearly visible. View will remain unaltered even as planting matures.

A4010 Risborough Road, Stoke Mandeville

HS2 will be visible on an embankment with noise fence barriers and overhead equipment clearly visible. Maturing vegetation will do little to change view in future.

> Marsh Lane, Marsh:

View substantially altered by new A4010 Stoke Mandeville bypass. New T junction will form focus of the view. HS2 and overhead line equipment also visible.

> Ellesborough Road, Wendover:

Bacombe Lane and Wendover will be visible across now open grassed landscape. After 15 years hedgerows will screen Bacombe Lane.

> Bacombe Lane, Wendover (from bridge going over bypass):

HS2 will be dominant with the huge greyish ‘green tunnel’ portal in the centre. After 15 years planting will have matured and will ‘better integrate the proposed scheme into the landscape’.

> Nash Lee Lane, Wendover:

The realigned B4009 Nash Lee Road will be a new feature in the landscape, above the HS2 cutting. Maturing plants will improve view.

> Church End, Steeple Claydon: Overhead line equipment and gantry cranes at the infrastructure maintenance depot will be clearly visible 650 metres away. Due to this viewpoint’s elevated location, night-time lighting from the IMD will be visible. After 15 years matured planting should provide some screening.

> School Hill/ Brackley Lane, Calvert (Pictured):

View will be more open due to removal of three homes and a row of trees on the left hand side of the road. School Hill HS2 bridge prominent, with the line running in a cutting underneath. Overhead line equipment will be visible, as will noise fence barrier on either side of the bridge.

> Bicester Road, Fleet Marston:

An auto transformer station and overhead equipment will be clearly visible. HS2 line will be in close prooximity, but ‘will be largely characteristic of the existing view contaning the busy A41’. Maturing planting will provide screen by 15 years.

>Quainton Road between Quainton and Waddesdon:

HS2 will run on a 3 metre high embankment and its overhead equipment will be clearly visible.