Activity centre could still survive
HOAC threatened by HS2 could be moved to Denham Quarry
ABANDONED plans to move an activity centre that faces closure because of the threat of HS2 have resurfaced.
Bosses at the Hillingdon Outdoor Activity Centre have said talks are currently taking place between Hillingdon Council and HS2 to look at the possibility of moving to Denham Quarry.
Neil Maddock, principal, said the three parties have reached an agreement to re-examine the move with a budget of £26.5million, just months after the Department for Transport (DfT) abandoned the idea over spiralling costs.
In October 2015, the DfT revealed the possibility that HOAC could be moved to Denham Quarry by 2018.
This was abandoned after the cost more than doubled to £55million because of construction, land costs and compensation.
Chris Grayling, the transport secretary, had also agreed to run the HS2 route through the middle of the lake on a viaduct, rather than the alternative option of a tunnel.
HOAC’s management warned Mr Grayling that the plans to run the route through the middle of the lake and the decision to not move the centre would force HOAC to close.
The DfT said at the time: “Despite being one of the largest construction projects in Europe, the government and HS2 Ltd are committed to making sure HS2 is an environmentally responsible transport scheme and that we minimise the effects on the countryside and communities as much as possible.”
Mr Maddock said: “HOAC has been in limbo for the past five years and unfortunately we continue to be uncertain in our future. Thanks to help from London Borough of Hillingdon we have been able to relook at a potential move to Denham, but our future is far from secure.”
There is some good news for users of the centre, as it will be running as normal throughout the 2017 season.
Mr Maddock said he hopes that HOAC’s future from 2018 and beyond will become more clear this year.
He added: “We’re still waiting for planning permission to go through, which is due in February.
“Until that’s gone through nothing’s a certainty. HS2 has committed to spending £26.5milion and as long as they come up with a plan for that amount of money it’s probable - it’s more likely than not.”
The under threat facility is widely used, and the shock decision not to move it was met with widespread anger from campaign groups.
Both HS2 LTD and Hillingdon council have been contacted for comment.