Ac­tiv­ity cen­tre could still sur­vive

HOAC threat­ened by HS2 could be moved to Den­ham Quarry

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS - Tom Her­bert tom.her­bert@trin­i­tymir­ror.com Twit­ter: @TRHer­bert

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.

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