High Speed 2 – the revised route
The Government announced a revised route for the proposed high speed rail link between London and Birmingham in the autumn. While some welcome amendments have been made, such as moving the line further from vulnerable sites such as Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire (I), at least two major designed landscapes, Hartwell House, Buckinghamshire (II*) and Stoneleigh Abbey, Warwickshire (II*) will see the line passing directly through the registered landscape. It is true that in both cases the original route has been revised in an attempt to reduce its impact (at Stoneleigh, for example, the line now avoids the Deer Park with its early nineteenth century picturesque landscape); but the engineering required for the various cuttings and viaducts, the overhead gantries, and the scale of the land-take needed for construction and, presumably, maintenance, will have a devastating impact on the integrity of these sites. It is precisely these factors which make the impact of the proposed line on the setting of landscapes such as Shardeloes (Buckinghamshire, II*) such a sensitive issue; and it is clear that the line will, if constructed, have a major impact on other elements of the historic environment.
We hope to work on a co-ordinated response to Government with the Gardens Trusts in the affected counties.
First published in GHS news 87 Spring 2011