In the past few months the Wormwood Scrubs Charitable Trust and H&F Council have been working hard to protect the nature and character of the Scrubs.
At its meeting on 15 December 2020, the Trust considered the latest information on the proposed works by HS2 Limited to prepare for the construction of its new station at the adjacent Old Oak Common. In particular, the Trust reviewed access to HS2’s works on Wormwood Scrubs to divert a sewer and reroute utilities.
The Trust was reminded that the Government’s HS2 Act (2017) has already granted access to the Scrubs via a prescribed route for this purpose.
However, the Trust agreed unanimously that its paramount objective would be to continue to protect the interests of users, local residents and the ecology of Wormwood Scrubs. The priority of the Trust and of the H&F Council is to ensure any impact is reduced to a minimum and that the necessary restoration plans are in place and implemented.
Although the Act allows HS2 Limited to access the Scrubs from Braybrook Street, the Trust and the council have used their influence and HS2 has now agreed to consider a less disruptive route via Old Oak Common Lane. This alternative entrypoint would also take into account vital biodiversity factors and would provide a considerably better outcome for residents, users and wildlife than the one detailed in the HS2 Act.
Planning permission and other consents for this route are required from the OPDC and the London Borough of Ealing. Applications for this are being prepared for submission in mid-January.
In the short term, light vehicles only will use an existing access maintenance gate near the junction of Braybrook Street and Wulfstan Street. They will follow an existing track onto the Scrubs for a short period to support vegetation removal to avoid disturbing wildlife during the bird-nesting season.
This temporary arrangement will also avoid the need for HS2 Limited to remove trees and shrubs at the consented Braybrook Street entrance.
A Conservation Masterplan will be co-produced with residents to protect the whole of the Scrubs. A comprehensive ecological enhancement is planned to start by September 2021 and will include the restoration of all areas affected by HS2 access.
Speaking after the meeting, the Chair of the Trust, Councillor Alex Sanderson said: “We are all committed to protecting and promoting the interests of local residents, the users and the wonderful biodiversity of the Scrubs. HS2 may want to get on with its works but we remain determined to minimise its disruptive effect on people and nature. That’s why we support the alternative access route to the Scrubs. We will do all in our power to secure this and hope it will be agreed soon.
We will keep everyone informed at each stage of the works on the H&F website as well as on public notices on and around the Scrubs.
Meanwhile, we are pressing ahead with the development of the Conservation Masterplan to revitalise the Scrubs and look forward to its early implementation to redress the damage done by HS2 and enhance its beauty and amenities.”
All papers for the Trust’s meeting on 15 December are available on the H&F website.