The Department for Transport wants five separate requests for judicial review to be heard together in the High Court in October
The government is seeking to have five separate legal challenges to its plans for a £32bn high speed rail line to Birmingham bundled together and heard in the High Court in October, Building has learnt.
The move comes as the Department for Transport (DfT) confirmed it would purchase a key regeneration site near Euston station in a bid to house some of the 500 residents of a nearby estate who will lose their homes to High Speed 2 (HS2), which was approved by the government in January.
Five separate requests for judicial reviews have been lodged by organisations opposed to the line and the Department for Transport has confirmed that it has now responded to the applications and is seeking to have them all heard together in the High Court in October.
One of the judicial review requests has come from 51M, a group of 18 largely rural councils, which oppose the project on five grounds which, they claim, meant the decision to approve the project was flawed, leading to “major and serious errors of law”.
The 51M application cites a “fundamentally flawed” consultation on the route of the scheme; failure to provide a sound economic case; as well as what it said was an “irrational” decision to ignore the concerns of Transport for London that the Euston underground station at the HS2 terminus would not cope with expected passenger flows.
This group also includes the London Borough of Camden, which has cross-party support for an action that is largely focused on the impact the project will have on residents around Euston station and the wider borough.
Two separate challenges have also be launched by a campaign group called HS2 Alliance, which comprises over 70 local interest groups, with one application arguing that the government failed to honour its environmental obligations, under European law, and the other focusing on the lack of proper consultation and the failure to properly consider alternative routes.
A further legal challenge has been lodged by Heathrow Hub Ltd, a company established to develop proposals for a transport interchange connecting HS2 with Heathrow, Crossrail, the M25 and Eurostar. The company is challenging the decision on the proposed route and is seeking support for an alternative route, which includes diverting the line via Heathrow.
A further legal challenge has been launched by Aylesbury Park Golf Club, part of which will be lost to the proposed line.
If the High Court gives the green light to the judicial reviews, the cases could considerably delay the £32bn project and lead to significant changes to the plans.
Camden councillor Sarah Hayward (Labour) said the action was aimed at “either stopping HS2 or getting the government to take our concerns seriously and mitigate the impact of the project”.
But Cllr Hayward welcomed a move by DfT to purchase the site of the National Temperance Hospital in Euston, which she said could provide homes for around 150 of the households that will lose their homes as a result of the HS2 plan.
She said this was a “stunning victory” for the council’s campaign. “They have also accepted the principles of ensuring the people whose homes will be bulldozed should be able to live locally and that they should be able to move straight in to new homes,” she added.
A Department for Transport spokesman said: “The line of the route between London and the West Midlands has been continually improved to mitigate the impact on those living near it and the environment.
“We believe we have struck the right balance between the reasonable concerns of people living on or near the line, who will be offered a package of compensation measures, the environment and the need to keep Britain moving.”
“We recognise absolutely the impact that HS2 will have on communities in Euston. That is why we are committed to working closely with Camden council to replace any lost housing and why we have acted quickly to secure the derelict National Temperance Hospital site.
“We believe this purchase will provide flexibility as we move forward with our plans for Euston station and the surrounding area.”