Significant construction work takes place on a road in north west London. A road closure is seen.

Old Oak Common HS2 construction like an earthquake, residents say

Communities around Old Oak Common in north west London say their mental and physical health is being damaged by the development of HS2.

Residents say the vibrations and noise created by construction for the high-speed line station in Acton, Ealing, are comparable to an earthquake. 

It follows widespread political discussion over the progress of HS2, after the prime minister cancelled the planned section from Birmingham to Manchester. 

Chris Peyton, 47, who lives on Wells House Road, outside the west London site’s entrance, said: “It has affected my mental wellbeing, it has impacted my life.

“[The developers] don’t care about anything other than building the station.

“Our house shakes aggressively from the works, and they just say that’s fine.

“There’s so few of us, maybe that’s why we don’t get talked about,” he added, emphasising that the 1,000 workers who attend the site each day are a huge presence in the area. 

Following coverage of the government’s decision to scrap the Birmingham to Manchester leg, Peyton believes people living around Old Oak Common are being overlooked in the national conversation.

HS2 construction site in Old Oak Common. Large temporary wall hides the major construction works.
‘LIKE AN EARTHQUAKE’: The construction site boundary is metres away from homes (Credit: Chris Peyton)

Work on the station began in 2019 and is expected to be completed by 2029 at the earliest, and will be served by HS2, Great Western, Elizabeth line and Heathrow Express trains.

Amanda Souter, who has lived in the area for 25 years, said: “It has impacted me personally – I have a lung problem, and the first year they started working, it got worse and worse. 

“It’s just been unbelievably noisy, the vibrations are like living in an earthquake. 

“Nobody knows where Old Oak Common is, we are just a tiny little community and we just don’t matter.”

Souter, a market researcher, says that she and others won’t feel the benefits of HS2, as Birmingham is already accessible and the project won’t be operational for around a decade. 

CALLED OFF: PM Rishi Sunak announced the cancellation of the Birmingham to Manchester leg of HS2 this month

The Old Oak Neighbourhood Forum (OONF) is a residents’ group which communicates with authorities on behalf of those affected by the construction.

Henry Peterson, 73, an advisor to the OONF, said: “Local people have always argued this plan is fundamentally flawed.

“It is still being billed as the best connected location in the UK, but that hasn’t been true since 2019, and it’s a lot less true after last week’s events,” referring to the Manchester leg’s cancellation.

Peterson says that the Old Oak Common station is being created as an interchange on the HS2 line, rather than a destination hub as promised. 

The HS2 line is still expected to begin at London Euston, although work there has been paused for two years.

A spokesperson for HS2 said: “We always work to protect the health and quality of life of those living or working near construction sites, and our contractors monitor noise and vibration levels carefully to ensure that disruption is kept to a minimum. 

“We are in regular contact with members of the local community around our Old Oak Common Station site and offer a number of ways for them to be able to talk to us.

“Our contractor manages a small claims process for any damage caused unintentionally by our works.”

Featured image credit: Chris Payten

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