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Denham and the Colne Valley


THE PLANNED ROUTE of HS2 crosses the River Colne close to the village of Denham, on the southern edge of Buckinghamshire.

The Colne valley is wide at this point, so the rail line crosses not just the river but also the Grand Union Canal and Savay Lake, one of many former gravel pits.

Indeed various prehistoric finds in the Colne Valley have been made as a result of these gravel workings.

The line will also cross Savay Lake on a viaduct within 400 metres of the Grade 1 listed medieval Savay Farm. This is a 14th-century hall house. In more recent times it was the homer of the British fascist leader Oswald Mosley.

The HS2 high-speed rail line crossing the Colne Valley
The HS2 high-speed rail line where it crosses the Colne Valley. The medieval Savay Farm is at the bottom of the map in the centre; the former film studios at centre-left.

After crossing the valley the HS2 rail line will enter a new 18-kilometre tunnel under the southern Chilterns. The scale of the construction work that will be required to dig this tunnel will clearly have a serious impact on the Colne Valley. There will be construction camps, storage depots for heavy machinery, vehicle parks, temporary and permanent spoil heaps, power-supply lines and much else.


The society's Response to the HS2 Environmental Statement included a section on Denham and the Colne Valley. This expressed concern at how little survey work had been done in the area by HS2 Limited, especially in view of its significance in the prehistoric period.

The area should be subject to the highest level of archaeological investigation before construction work begins, stressing that ‘We are conscious that the already severe impact from construction works will be prolonged should the Heathrow Spur be built.’

The Environmental Statement (ES) had also failed to recognise the importance of modern influences such as the film industry. Denham was chosen as the site of Britain's earliest film studios and processing plants in the early 20th century not only because it was conveniently placed for London but also because of nearby picturesque rural locations: ‘Denham village in particular has been seen in countless films and advertisements.’

The ES description of Denham Place is also wrong. It lies north-west of Denham village (not north-east) and it is incorrect to say that it is ‘now largely surrounded by modern settlement’. The ‘claire voie’ on its western side is a significant historic feature deliberately maintained to give views over the fields on the other side of Denham Avenue.

The ES map of Denham does not include undesignated heritage asset buildings, though these are in the Denham Conservation Area.

Read the society's full Response here:
download article BAS Response to the HS2 Environmental Statement - February 2014