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HS2 reveals controversial Colne Valley viaduct

HS2 Ltd has revealed the concept design for a controversial, 3.4km long viaduct, which will pass through the Colne Valley Regional Park as part of the first phase of the scheme.

The design has been developed by Knight Architects and Atkins in consultation with the Colne Valley Regional Park Panel and the High Speed 2 Independent Design Panel.

The Colne Valley Regional Park is the nearest large rural area to central  London and covers 111km2 between Rickmansworth in the north and Egham in the south.

In November last year, HS2 Ltd released a mitigation plan to try to ease some of the environmental, noise and construction concernswhich were raised about the line passing through the park.

The project promoter said the viaduct concept explored a range of options and ideas for how HS2 could be sensitively and aesthetically sited within the Colne Valley, while still addressing the technical demands of the project. It said 14 key criteria had been considered in its design. These include how well the design fits the landscape, how views and landscape “flow” are maintained, and whether the structure is well proportioned and elegant.

The detailed design for the scheme is currently being carried out by Align, the main civil engineering contractor on the C1 section of phase 1 of the route. Align is a joint venture between Bouygues Travaux Publics, VolkerFitzpatrick and Sir Robert McAlpine. Its design is being developed by architect Grimshaw and New Civil Engineer understands it could be substantially different to the design published today. The new design is due to be published in the spring.

Colne Valley Regional Park Panel chair Jim Barclay said: “The construction of the Colne Valley HS2 viaduct will have a significant impact on the Colne Valley area.

“The Colne Valley Panel which is drawn from local stakeholders, is very pleased to have been consulted and, through a series of workshops, panel members have been able to understand the design principles for the viaduct.

“The Colne Valley Regional Park Panel looks forward to further engagement with HS2 Ltd and Align over the actual viaduct design.”

The concept design for the viaduct also considers the potential for additional elements such as transparent noise-reduction barriers with vertical lines which are visible to bats and wildfowl, while creating a slimmer side profile of the viaduct.

HS2’s independent design panel chair Sadie Morgan said: “We are delighted that this imaginative and carefully-considered concept has been published, and can form the basis for wider discussions with the communities around the Colne Valley and all those who value and use the spaces and amenities within it.

“The independent design panel will continue to work hard to ensure that the viaduct’s final design respects its location and communities, whilst being a shining example of great design that Britain can be proud of.”

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