HS2 in West Cheshire
Statement by Alison Knight, Director of Places Strategy
In November 2016, the Secretary of State for Transport (SoS) confirmed the majority of the Government’s preferred route for the section of the proposed high speed rail network between Crewe and Manchester (Phase 2b). This announcement included making substantial changes to the proposed route in certain areas, and sought views of affected communities and other interested parties through a consultation process ending on Thursday 9 March 2017. These submissions will inform a decision to be made by the SoS later this year.
The key issues of the consultation process relevant to Cheshire West and Chester Council were:
- proposed assistance schemes to affected communities
- location of a rolling stock depot at Wimboldsley
- proposed route between Middlewich and Pickmere
Cheshire West and Chester Council has submitted its response to the HS2 Ltd consultation process following extensive engagement with the community, including with the parish and town councils representing affected areas.
The proposals will have an adverse impact on many communities, businesses and on the natural and built environment across a number of areas.
The Council is concerned that the route includes new structures of up to 23 metres tall, areas of unstable land and extensive networks of underground infrastructure.
As there was not enough information made available by HS2 Ltd in the consultation process regarding these and other concerns, Cheshire West and Chester Council is currently unable to give support for the proposals.
Cheshire West and Chester Council requires HS2 Ltd to establish a technical forum as well as working with affected communities and businesses to determine whether the proposals are suitable, and whether robust and effective mitigation measures can be developed to an exceptionally high standard.
Our response to the HS2 Ltd consultation process is based upon an expectation of seven high speed trains per hour at the Crewe hub and of improvements to West Coast Main Line services.
Investment in our current rail network is essential to meet the continued growth of the number of passengers travelling and to improve connectivity within and beyond our region. Our collaborative working within the North Wales and Mersey Dee Rail Taskforce of Growthtrack 360 has identified priorities for service and infrastructure investment.
Cheshire West and Chester Council recognises the opportunities for generating sustained economic growth from the high speed rail network. Our partnership working with the Northern Gateway Development Zone has secured approximately £1.2m funding from Government to develop a Growth Strategy for a region with potential for creating more than 120,000 jobs and 100,000 new homes by 2040.
Cheshire West and Chester Council urges the Government to move swiftly, in recognition of the long period of uncertainty that will impact on so many people and businesses.
The Cheshire West and Chester Council HS2 Ltd consultation submission is available to view: