HS2 Business Forums
Tom Venner, Commercial Development Director at HS2 Ltd and Cllr Phil Jones, Camden Council Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Transport and Planning, joined us for our second HS2 Business Forum event.
The forum provided an opportunity to discuss the future of the Euston area, both during and after HS2’s construction, and the priorities for the businesses that call Euston home. There was broad agreement that regeneration should aim to strengthen the sense of place in the Euston area and add to its vibrancy. For the business community, this means avoiding the ‘bulldozer’ approach to redevelopment (seeking to reimagine an area from scratch) and prioritising permeability of the station site, provision of affordable workspace both during and after construction and a joined up approach to redevelopment with all the parties involved.
All at the forum agreed that good communication between HS2 Ltd and the local community is vital to making a success of the redevelopment process, and that this is something in need of improvement. It was acknowledged that successful redevelopment depends on occupying businesses to create jobs and shape the character of an area, yet outreach to this group often tends to be limited. Specific areas discussed for improved communication include clarity on timings for demolition and construction work to avoid property being taken long before it is needed and to dispel confusion about whether businesses are still open. The importance of strengthening communication and coordination HS2 Ltd, Network Rail and Transport for London was also discussed. It was highlighted that without effective coordination, construction work at Euston could potentially go on for 30 rather than 15 years.
It was noted that there has much anxiety amongst small businesses in the area, who are concerned about the future affordability of business space in Euston. All agreed that an exodus of business from Euston is a worst case scenario to be prevented, and that the future for Euston should see a diversity of business sizes and types. Getting the right balance between affordable housing and affordable workspace allocation will be vital for this. There was also agreement that ‘meanwhile use’ business space, such as at the National Temperance Hospital, should be prioritised during the construction process.
It was agreed that active business engagement is necessary to secure this vision, and that there will be opportunities for businesses to input on ‘meanwhile use’ plans and the wider Euston redevelopment plans in the coming months. The HS2 Business Forum series will also continue in the autumn once Collective has moved into its new location.