Crawford argues that a mitigation-led design, e.g. tunnels, cuttings and lots of noise bunds and obviation of visual and landscape impact is not the way forwards. Rather that there are five elements to the Design Vision for HS2 which should be seen as a positive not defensive design:
- A Whole Project Masterplan,
This is an argument for a national design narrative, and overall identity. This is more than a common house style for stations, bridges, but rather a masterplan for the entire route and how it relates to its context, including the varying landscapes, ecology, cultural heritage, hydrology and communities, so that the while is greater than its parts. Precedents might be the Great Western, London to Bristol Railway, or the Shinkansen of Japan.
- Passenger Experience
Of the 230km route of phase 1 to Birmingham, some 53km will be in tunnel and 74km in cutting, which is over 55% of the journey. So it is vital that the remainder enhances the passengers’ journey (think of those splendid first views over Rainham Marshes as the Eurostar leaves the tunnel after Stratford). This is an argument for lineside restoration, mitigation and enhancement as part of a “celebration of English landscape”.
- Integrated Design
This argues for surface water balancing being used to create a range of new habitats with earth modeling to mitigate noise and planting to screen sensate views. This may extend to creation of country parks and and nature reserves.
- Economic Regeneration
This is design which aims to maximize regeneration as at Old Oak Common in London or Curzon Street the Birmingham terminus. So that stations become hubs of wider regeneration. But this extends to other areas where the HS2 line can lead to environmental improvements linked to economic regeneration.
- Environmental Regeneration
This extends the above by addressing environmental degradation along the route, in rural as well as urban areas. For example, small, derelict brownfield sites and by using embankments to provide flood protection.
Crawford ends by quoting the example of the London 2012 Olympic Parks as an example on a smaller scale of what HS2 can achieve. A corrective to the positive tenor of Crawford’s views is to read the position statement by the Wildlife Trusts on HS2 (see below).
Charles Crawford, is a solicitor turned landscape architect, and director of LDA Design, curiously he is also a director of the Kingsland toll bridge, near Shrewsbury. He studied law at Cambridge University (1980-83) and landscape architecture at the University of Central England (1994-98).
Charles Crawford, LDA Design, “Preserving England’s Green and Pleasant Land” Rail, issue 781, 19 August-1 September 2015, pp.32-33
High Speed Two (HS2) Ltd. HS2 Design Vision March 2015 https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/hs2-design-vision (accessed 24.8.2015)
Wildlife Trusts Position Statement on Phase 1 of HS2 http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/node/3174 (accessed 24.8.2015)