Category: Listed Property News
The purpose of this contact is to raise awareness of HS2 (High Speed Rail Link–London to West Midlands)particularly for fellow members of LPOC.
Our home is in Berkswell, a conservation village situated in between Berkswell and Coventry (1 mile from Meriden-”The Centre of England”).
“Berche-welle” was recorded in the Domesday Book and the present Berkswell Hall, built c.1820, occupies the site of previous Manor Houses. The property is Grade Two star (listed 1976) and the listing specifically mentions the front entrance features and an excellent staircase.
Berkswell Hall and some 5 acres of landscaped gardens, was sold in 1984 and, subsequently converted into a total of 16 dwellings, comprising 11 apartments and 5 two-storey mews houses.
The nearest public viewpoint of the Hall is from the recently created Heart of England Walk, which is some 200metres distant, running parallel to the Hall south terrace.
The Hall view from the south terrace is across open parkland. The only changes to this vista since the property was listed, have been the fencing and paving of the public walkway, some visible skyline development in nearby Balsall Common and increased proximity of the aicraft flight path into Birmingham Airport.
The proposed railway lines are 1kilometre distant from the south terrace viewpoint of the Hall, just below the skyline. The land clearance necessary to provide for safe passage of trains travelling at 250miles per hour and for track security, is equivalent to the width of an 8 lane motorway. At peak periods, there could be a train passing every 5 minutes at a noise level of 95 decibels (in the workplace, noise levels above 87 decibels are not permitted). Tunnels are technically difficult, expensive and, therefore, limited in the proposals. Cuttings and elevated track sections depend on the local topography.
The route is set. Any changes can only be minor to minimise elevated sections or create artificial cuttings.
Contacts with English Heritage, Transport and Environment Ministries and the Local Authority show that any protest related to an individual area or property is classified as “Nimby”.
The consultation process has begun, but as a “Roadshow” to “Invest in Britains Future” it is obvious that any protests must embrace other than environmental matters to be considered.
Personally, I am appalled at the thought of any current Government proposals to spend £20billion to marginally improve travel times for a limited commuter elite in 15 years time, whilst shelving Rail Package 2 proposals. The latter proposals, costed at £3billion, were intended to improve commuter services throughout the country, based on the existing rail structures. The HS2 development will not benefit the millions of commuters, south of Birmingham, who are using the present high speed networks.
There is, also, a delicious irony in our politics which legislates to require listed property owners to safeguard and maintain public and private property features for future generations but has no regard for the vistas and environment that the owners have to look at.
Why should we continue to pay a premium to preserve our privileged environment when it can be so easily blighted?
Will consideration be given to “delisting” affected properties and allowing owners to develop and improve their homes to meet their own future requirements rather than those of an uninterested bureaucracy?
There are many sectors of the population who will be profoundly affected by the HS2 proposals, but are not yet aware of the impact on themselves or their region. In the meantime, I would be very interested to hear the views and experiences of other LPOC members.
Please email your comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org
We will be publishing more information about the HS2 in the May/June issue of Listed Heritage due out early May.