Buckinghamshire Council’s intervention turns around HS2 vent shaft plans
Buckinghamshire Council met with HS2 Ltd, its contractor, Align, and the HS2 Independent Design Panel in June last year to discuss its major concerns over the proposed design of the Amersham vent shaft which HS2 Limited will be building on Whielden Lane in Old Amersham.
During many meetings with Align/HS2 Ltd over the last five years a number of iterations of the vent shaft have been presented and discussed, but the Council has always believed significantly more work was needed to ensure the proposal is appropriate to the character of Old Amersham and the AONB.
Councillor Martin Tett, Leader of Buckinghamshire Council said: “We have always said that before we are in a position to agree a suitable design, which fits in with the historical character of Old Amersham and the nearby AONB, we wanted to see major changes. The site is in Amersham Old Town, one of the most attractive and historic towns in the county. The original idea that a rusty metal fence surrounding the vent shaft would be appropriate adjacent to the historic townscape was totally unacceptable and completely inconsistent with the design principles which HS2 Ltd themselves claim to want to champion. This very sensitive environment needs a complementary building.’’
As the Local Planning Authority, we have consistently said that the design needed a completely new direction, including the use of more traditional materials for the external appearance and more landscape screening. This key building needs to blend into the townscape and enhance its framing of the AONB.
The revised design now being presented is a significant improvement on the initial scheme HS2 Limited first submitted. We pushed hard for a better scheme and are pleased that our efforts have resulted in major changes in the proposals.
Due to the HS2 Act 2017, our overall influence and control is limited on much of the HS2 scheme, but we have done everything we can to ensure that the Amersham vent shaft, when built, is in keeping with Old Amersham’s distinct style and the AONB. I want to assure residents that I will ensure that we will fully use the limited powers we have.”
The revised design can be viewed at a ‘You Said, We Did’ public engagement event being hosted by HS2 Ltd/Align at the Royal British Legion, Whielden Street, Amersham on 7 July 2022 from 3pm to 8pm.
A formal Schedule 17 application from HS2 Limited for the Amersham vent shaft is expected to be submitted to Buckinghamshire Council in July 2022.