HS2 opens phase 2a consultations as Birmingham commits rail investment

HS2 Ltd has opened three separate consultations on the phase 2a route as the high-speed line now faces scrutiny.

A report from the Public Accounts Committee, published today, warned that HS2 phase 1 may face delays of up to a year and, and said the organisation needs to clarify how much phase 2 will cost.

Also today, HS2 Ltd has announced three consultations, running until 7 November, on proposed changes to the route and its draft assessments of the equality and environmental impact.

Under the proposed route changes, HS2 will extend the proposed tunnel at Crewe so that the tunnel entrance is south of the A500 and Weston Lane. It will make the lines near Crewe that would connect HS2 to the West Coast Main Line longer and move them further south, and construct a temporary railhead near Stone, which could be converted to a permanent maintenance facility.

The report said that transport secretary Chris Grayling approved these changes because they are meant to reduce the development’s impact on local communities.

In addition, HS2 Ltd opened a consultation on its draft assessments of the equality and environmental impact of phase 2a.

The environmental assessment said there would be no significant effects on agricultural land or air quality, and a high-level climate change risk and resilience assessment will be conducted for phase 2a.

The equality assessment said phase 2a could potentially have a negative impact on marginalised communities if, for example, demolishing homes to make room for it harms community cohesion, or increased construction traffic makes communities more isolated.

Birmingham leaders announce plans to ‘maximise impact’ of HS2

Separately, Birmingham today became the first local area in the country to announce major financial commitment based on the role HS2 will play in the region as a catalyst for regeneration.

The Curzon Investment Plan is intended to create 36,000 jobs, 4,000 new homes and 600,000sqm of commercial floor space around the planned HS2 Curzon Street Station.

It is funded by £907m from Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP and £137.2m from the West Midlands Combined Authority.

In addition, the two organisations will spend £183.3m on delivering Metro extension programmes, which will connect the east side of the city to the centre, Birmingham International Airport, and the planned HS2 interchange at Solihull.

Steve Hollis, deputy chair of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP, said: “The Curzon Investment Plan is the first major commitment by a local area to maximise the impact of HS2. It outlines how we will use HS2 as a trigger to transform an area of untapped potential in Birmingham’s city core and create thousands of new jobs, homes and places for businesses to thrive.

“This demonstrates clearly what we can achieve in this region by being given the right tools by central government, to unlock our own future economic success.

“Our commitment to invest is a bold statement of intent for how we will utilise HS2 as a catalyst for growth at every step. By setting out our plans and investing now, we will begin to realise the economic benefits of HS2 far sooner.”

(Image c. oxyman from Creative Commons)

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J Williams   16/09/2016 at 17:35

It is good that Birmingham is seeking to strenthen local links into HS2. This will make it easier for people to commute into London. As we discovered with HS2's own staff they did not want to work in Birmingham. Sadly the likely effect is that HS2 will benefit London more than Birmingham. With Simon Kirby (the man who was brought in to make it happen , not just to recruit a "team" £750K is a pretty expensive recruitment consultant!) having jumped ship. It will be interesting to see who is next...Higgins?

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