Council says that current proposals for the Amersham HS2 vent shaft are ‘totally unacceptable’

Buckinghamshire Council is meeting with HS2, its contractor, Align, and the HS2 Independent Design Panel next week to discuss major concerns over the proposed design of the Amersham vent shaft which HS2 Limited will be building on Whielden Lane in Old Amersham.

During many meetings with Align/HS2 over the last four years a number of iterations of the vent shaft have been presented and discussed but the council believes significantly more work is needed to ensure the appearance is appropriate to the style of Old Amersham.

Councillor Martin Tett, Leader of Buckinghamshire Council said:

“Before we are in a position to agree a suitable design, which fits in with the historical character of Old Amersham and the nearby AONB, there need to be major changes. The site is in Amersham Old Town, one of the most attractive and historic towns in the county. The idea that a rusty metal fence surrounding the vent shaft would be appropriate adjacent to the historic townscape is totally unacceptable. This is completely inconsistent with the design principles which HS2 themselves claim to want to champion. This very sensitive environment needs a complementary building, not something that would be more in keeping around a builder's yard.”

“As the Local Planning Authority, we feel the design requires a completely new direction, including the use of more traditional materials for the external appearance, such as a brick building for the main vent shaft and the surrounding wall facing the Public Rights of Way and the highways. This key building needs to blend into the townscape and enhance its framing of the AONB”.

“Regrettably, due to the HS2 Act 2017, our overall influence and control is limited on much of the HS2 scheme, but we are doing everything we can to ensure that the Amersham vent shaft, when built, is in keeping with Old Amersham’s distinct style and the AONB. I want to assure residents that I will ensure that we will fully use the limited powers we have.”

Councillors representing Amersham and professional Planners from Buckinghamshire Council are meeting with HS2, Align and their designers on 21 June 2021 where the latest design will be presented before the Schedule 17 planning application is submitted and it can be assessed on its merits.

A formal Schedule 17 application from HS2 Limited for the Amersham vent shaft is expected to be submitted to Buckinghamshire Council in early July 2021.