Londoners living near new Old Oak Common HS2 train station hit back against plan to shut road for four years

The Old Oak Common Station construction site for the HS2 railway project, pictured in September (AFP via Getty Images)
The Old Oak Common Station construction site for the HS2 railway project, pictured in September (AFP via Getty Images)

Residents living near the construction site of the new Old Oak Common HS2 station in west London fear being “cut off” from services if plans go ahead to shut a key road in their area for four years.

Old Oak Common Lane must be closed so utility diversion works can be carried out and new railway bridges built, to facilitate the major new train station.

The road will also be lowered and widened to accommodate double-decker buses.

But residents who use the road to reach key amenities in East Acton, including a GP and schools, have hit back at HS2 Ltd which is considering one option that would see the road shut for four years.

Amanda Souter, of the Wells House Road residents' association, told the BBC: "We will basically become totally isolated and cut off.

"All of our amenities including hospitals, GP surgeries, dentists, shops and two primary schools, and all the other schools, you get to using that road.

"Residents will have to go round in a massive circle of about two miles to get round it."

How the new Old Oak Common station might look (HS2 Ltd/PA))
How the new Old Oak Common station might look (HS2 Ltd/PA))

"The community is absolutely shattered by this news,” added Ms Souter.

"We had been told about a one-year closure, which was really going to take its toll on the community, but four years - and the council is telling us it could be longer - is just absolutely devastating.

"I don't know how we will get through it."

In a letter to HS2 bosses, Ms Souter said: “The impacts will not only be on Wells House Road, but across the entire area, impacting on thousands of residents and businesses in Old Oak Common and East Acton and further congesting traffic across four boroughs.”

Another local woman told how she uses Old Oak Common Lane four times a day to take her young children to and from primary school and nursery.

“I also got my GP and my pharmacy there, it's obviously going to have a major impact on all of us,” she told the BBC. "It will be very, very difficult.”

Another mother, named Ilwad Gacal, said closing the road for so long would be a “disaster”.

"It's our main road,” she said. “It's the road that we use to commute to everything we need - school, GP - anything that we need, we need to go down Old Oak Common Lane.

"I can't imagine the road being closed. Where are we going to go? It would add hours and hours on our lives in terms of disruption and traffic. It's just unimaginable."

Old Oak Common will be the UK’s largest newly built railway station. It is scheduled to open between 2029 and 2033.

A number of road closures are being enforced in the area, for the complex build to be carried out.

HS2 is understood to be looking at a number of closures, one of which would see Old Oak Common Lane shut for four years, but no decision has yet been chosen.

Old Oak Common station will be the biggest new-built station in the UK (HS2)
Old Oak Common station will be the biggest new-built station in the UK (HS2)

A HS2 Ltd spokesperson said: "In order to undertake utility diversion works, build new rail bridges, and lower and widen Old Oak Common Lane to allow for double decker buses to serve the station, we need to close Old Oak Common Lane for a period of time.

“HS2 takes it responsibilities to local communities very seriously and we try to minimise impacts wherever possible. We are in dialogue with residents about the works required and the options for the closure of Old Oak Common Lane.”

TfL concerns over aspects of Old Oak Common plan

In documents from October seen by the Standard, TfL raised ‘high level concerns’ about aspects of HS2’s plan for Old Oak Common station.

TfL raised issues over pedestrian forecasts not taking into account area growth. It also said the site “lacks local connectivity”, with not enough bus stops, and private vehicles sharing the bus station.

HS2 Ltd said that following the pause on the Euston leg of the railway, it is assessing how Old Oak Common acting as a temporary terminus for HS2 will affect its requirements and design.

It said it has been working through the feedback from TfL and that several items have already been addressed, while it works to address the remaining points.

Responding to TfL’s concerns, an HS2 Ltd spokesperson said: “HS2 is committed to working closely with local partners to best integrate the station into the wider development plans and ensure it is operationally safe and resilient.”

The first leg of the HS2 project - thought to cost as much as £67billion - aims to establish a high-speed rail link between Birmingham and London.

The northern leg of the route, which was due to extend beyond Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds, has been axed.

Work to extend the line to Euston have also been paused, meaning Old Oak Common will be the high-speed railway’s only London station when services to and from Birmingham begin.Passengers travelling to and from central London will need to take Elizabeth line services.