Cen­tre’s fu­ture up in the air as HS2 backs viaduct

But hope resur­faces of mov­ing lake ac­tiv­ity hub at lower cost

Uxbridge Gazette - - NEWS - By Alexan­der Ballinger alexan­der.ballinger@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

THE un­der-threat Hilling­don Out­door Ac­tiv­ity Cen­tre (HOAC) con­tin­ues to face an un­cer­tain fu­ture in the wake of the de­ci­sion to run the High Speed 2 rail route through the mid­dle of the lake where it is based.

Se­nior staff have not yet lost hope, as talks are tak­ing place with the aim of mov­ing the widely used cen­tre to Den­ham Quarry at a re­duced cost.

In Oc­to­ber, the De­part­ment for Trans­port (DfT) an­nounced that the plans to move the cen­tre from its cur­rent site be­tween Uxbridge and Hare­field had been aban­doned be­cause of spi­ralling costs.

This was ac­com­pa­nied by the news that the trans­port sec­re­tary Chris Grayling had 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 re­sponded with a let­ter to the sec­re­tary of state, warn­ing that HOAC would be forced to close un­der the cur­rent plans.

Prin­ci­pal of the cen­tre, Neil Mad­dock, told getwest­lon­don: “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 re-look 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.

In Oc­to­ber 2015, the DfT re­vealed the pos­si­bil­ity that HOAC could be moved to Den­ham Quarry by 2018, but this was aban­doned af­ter the cost more than dou­bled to £55mil­lion be­cause of con­struc­tion, land costs and com­pen­sa­tion.

Mr Mad­dock has said that HOAC, Hilling­don Coun­cil and HS2 have reached an agree­ment to re-ex­am­ine the pos­si­bil­ity of mov­ing to Den­ham Quarry with a bud­get of £26.5mil­lion

Af­ter the an­nounce­ment that HOAC would not be re­lo­cated, a DfT spokesman said: “Fol­low­ing an in­de­pen­dent re­view, the Trans­port Sec­re­tary has agreed with HS2 Com­mons Se­lect Com­mit­tee that the plan for a viaduct, rather than a tun­nel, in the Colne Val­ley is best value for money.

“Also, de­spite our very best ef­forts to re­lo­cate the Hilling­don Out­door Ac­tiv­i­ties Cen­tre to Den­ham Quarry, it has now be­come clear that es­ca­lat­ing costs mean it won’t be a sus­tain­able long term op­tion.”

In­stead the gov­ern­ment sug­gested an al­ter­na­tive plan to keep HOAC at its cur­rent site, but this was not wel­comed.

The DfT spokesper­son added: “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.”

Hilling­don Coun­cil de­clined to com­ment.

TRAIN LINK: An artist’s im­pres­sion aerial view of Hare­field lakes show­ing Hilling­don Out­door Ac­tiv­i­ties Cen­tre and the Colne Val­ley viaduct

SET­TING SAIL: Hilling­don Out­door Ac­tiv­i­ties Cen­tre of­fers sports from archery to wind­surf­ing

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