Heathrow Express Depot

The relocation of the Heathrow Express (HEx) Depot to Langley is as a direct consequence of the High Speed 2 (HS2) rail development. Works required at the existing HEx Depot site at Old Oak Common to construct a new station for HS2 leave insufficient space to locate and operate the Depot on the site.

Council reaction to relocation

Councillor James Swindlehurst, deputy leader and commissioner for neighbourhoods and renewal, said: “One of the most significant concerns we had about the depot moving to Langley was that it would occupy land we had aspirations to build much-needed homes on, as well as the impact the construction would have locally.

“As a result, we made very strong formal representations to the HS2 Select Committee through the petition process, which brought HS2 to the negotiating table.

"As discussions progressed, and we exhausted all reasonable avenues, we felt, on balance, it was likely the depot would go ahead. This made us even more determined to fight for the very best solution that still delivered housing land and a decent mitigation package for those affected.

“Through this agreement we have won a series of commitments, including noise mitigation measures for the homes directly impacted by the construction of the depot, construction traffic will be routed in such a way as to keep disruption to a minimum and we will receive part funding towards a resident liaison officer, who will be a single point of contact for residents with any concerns during the construction process.

“As the local planning and transport authority, we will be working with HS2 to ensure those promises are kept. HS2 have also committed £6.25m towards community projects that will have a direct benefit to residents.

“In addition, as part of the agreement we have secured a commitment for a formal review of Network Rail owned land in the borough, with view to some suitable land being released for residential or business development.

“We are having ongoing discussions with HS2, Network Rail and the Department for Transport to ensure the construction of the depot does not impact on plans to build the much-needed western rail link to Heathrow airport, a project for which Slough is the stakeholder lead.

“We also won the right to petition again if any of the key parts of the agreement are not met.”

The agreement is subject to the HS2 Hybrid Bill receiving Royal Assent.

Background

HS2 Ltd originally intended to move the HEx Depot to a site nearby at North Pole East, but more detailed operational work undertaken by Network Rail after the HS2 Hybrid Bill’s deposit revealed that that site would not be ‘operationally viable’.

Following an options appraisal of potential sites by Network Rail, Langley was identified as the only operationally viable location for the new HEx Depot. HS2 Ltd identified Langley as the proposed new location for the HEx Depot as part of Additional Provision 2 (AP2) changes deposited in July 2015.

Slough Borough Council made the decision to challenge the proposal through the formal petitioning process through proposal and resolution at the council meeting on 21 July 2015.

The passed resolution gave council officers the authority to “submit any petition and thereafter to maintain and, if considered appropriate, withdraw its opposition in respect of the Bill”. Slough Borough Council’s petition against AP2 (designated as AP2:152) was deposited with the HS2 Select Committee on 14 August 2015.

Subsequently, HS2 Ltd issued Additional Provision 4 (AP4) in October 2015 proposing changes to construction routes associated with the Depot. Council officers under the authority on the July resolution petitioned against AP4 (designated as AP4:274) and was deposited with the HS2 Select Committee on 13 November 2015. The council meeting on 24 November 2015 acknowledged this decision.

Following the petitioning process, and in parallel to preparing to present a case to the HS2 Select Committee, Slough Borough Council met with HS2 Ltd to discuss concerns and objections raised in the two petitions. As a consequence of these discussions a Heads of Terms was developed and presented without prejudice to HS2 Ltd; a letter of assurance was received in response.

Subsequent dialogue with HS2 Ltd resulted in a further and final letter of assurance from HS2 Ltd which was accepted by the council.

On 22 February 2016 the HS2 Select Committee published their Second Special Report of Session 2015-16 which in conclusion to the AP2 proposal to relocate the HEx Depot to Langley stated:

Relocating the Heathrow Express depot has raised difficult issues. Other options appear not to be viable. On the basis of the assurances offered by the Promoter we conclude that the AP2 proposal for relocation to Langley should proceed.” [paragraph 168, page 46].