Council chiefs set out views on high-speed rail to deliver city goals
Council chiefs have outlined their stance on the Government’s HS2 proposals with the key aim of securing the best outcomes for the city.
The HS2 project is seen by Leeds City Council as a major catalyst to achieving the city’s ‘best city’ aspirations and described has been as ‘the centrepiece of an integrated transport network that brings new levels of connectivity to Leeds and the city region’.
Senior councillors have focussed their local response to the Government consultation around a five-point plan to ensure that Leeds and the wider region achieves the maximum benefit from the proposed new high-speed connection from Birmingham to the North.
The five key areas were vital to unlocking the scheme’s full potential for the region. They are:
• Designing, building and engineering from the North to accelerate the economic ripple effect regionally as well as bringing forward opportunities for construction jobs;
• Investing early in local rail networks and other transport to better connect Leeds City Region cities and towns;
• Addressing concerns already expressed about the route to minimise impact on communities and maximise economic benefits to them;
• Lobbying for a review of compensation for communities to better engage with and improve arrangements for them;
• Making the economic case while ensuring costs are kept down.
Leeds City Council executive member for the economy and development Councillor Richard Lewis, said:
“Undoubtedly a high-speed rail link connecting Leeds more closely to the rest of country could bring unprecedented economic benefits to the city and wider region. However, much work remains to finalise the route and the design and to properly address the impacts on local neighbourhoods before a satisfactory scheme is achieved.
“This is a once-in-a-generation investment opportunity that we are committed to by doing all we can to ensure we get the best possible benefits for our city and our region.”
The proposals also include a new station on the South Bank, which have been seen as having the potential to secure the revival of this 136 hectare area of the city centre.
The council has repeated its request that HS2 Ltd revisit the detail of the Leeds spur and proposals especially in the area of the Woodlesford junction where the impact of the engineering would be very substantial and unacceptable to local residents.
In their response to Government consultation, council chiefs also warn that careful planning and greater attention must be paid to the project’s impacts on communities and the environment.
The council’s draft formal response to consultation on initial proposals for the HS2 Phase 2 will be discussed by the Executive Board on 22 January before the final version is submitted by the 31 January deadline. The next step in the project is for the Government to confirm its preferred final option for the Phase 2 scheme.
A copy of the Executive Board report and proposed response to the formal Phase 2 consultation can be found on the council’s website: http://democracy.leeds.gov.uk/ieIssueDetails.aspx?IId=69649&PlanId=0&Opt=3#AI46651
For media enquiries please contact:
Laura Ferris, Leeds City Council press office, 0113- 2275472