Senior councillors to approve high-speed rail preparations plans

Senior councillors in Leeds are expected to approve the next stage of developing plans preparing for high-speed rail at a meeting next week.

At the executive board meeting to be held at Civic Hall on Wednesday 17 December, councillors will discuss the response to recent developments which saw Chairman of HS2 Ltd Sir David Higgins release his update report on HS2 in Leeds in October, with government also backing plans for a new high-speed rail link between Leeds and Manchester.

Councillors are expected to formally endorse the proposals put forward by Sir David in his report ‘Rebalancing Britain: From HS2 towards a national transport strategy’ which include the need to find a solution to the issue of how to accommodate high-speed rail provision in the city centre as part of a modern integrated transport network which also aids connecting links to other areas in the Leeds City Region.

To achieve this, Leeds City Council is proposed to take a leading role examining the options around Leeds Station, working with HS2 Ltd, the Department for Transport, Network Rail and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority.

The work will fit within the development of a masterplan for the area promoting the regeneration of the 136-hectare Leeds South Bank and links to the surrounding areas of Holbeck, Richmond Hill and Beeston.

The recommendation to the executive board also includes the council continuing to lobby HS2 Ltd and the government on issues around the HS2 route into Leeds, and ways to ensure a jobs and skills legacy from the project through the Leeds City Region Skills Network.

The final element of the Sir David Higgins’ recommendations to be discussed is that of creating a new ‘Transport for the North’ body representing the city regions of Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield and Newcastle to speak with a single voice on strategic national transport matters. This came from Sir David’s endorsement of the principles of the ‘One North’ proposal of August 2014, which called for an integrated new transport plan and £15bn of investment in transport networks across the north to improve connectivity and complement HS2.

Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor Keith Wakefield said:

“We were very pleased to hear Sir David Higgins’ update report he delivered here in Leeds which endorsed what we had been saying about how the north is essential to the success of HS2 but also how HS2 cannot stand alone but needs to be supported by a fully integrated strategic transport network and significant improvements to transport infrastructure across the north.

“We know a 20-minute reduction in journey times between Leeds and Manchester would be worth £6.7billion and nearly 30,000 jobs across the whole of the north of England, so the proposed new high-speed HS3 line would further help to realise the economic potential of the north and rebalance the national economy.

“We continue to have an open dialogue with HS2 and the government on issues around the route it will take into Leeds, and another key element will be getting the remodelled or new Leeds Station right as it is already the busiest railway station in the north.

“We need a modern new transport hub at the heart of Leeds which connects all transport networks and integrates fully with links to other areas across the Leeds City Region. HS2 is the catalyst for this but we need to make sure that everything connecting to and from it is the best it can possibly be and that all job creation and growth aspects are maximised.”

Notes to editors:

To see ‘Rebalancing Britain: From HS2 towards a national transport strategy’ go to www.gov.uk/government/publications/rebalancing-britain-from-hs2-towards-a-national-transport-strategy

Economic benefit figures from One North proposal which can be seen at www.westyorks-ca.gov.uk/uploadedFiles/Content/News/Articles/One%20North.pdf


For media enquiries please contact:

Roger Boyde,

Leeds City Council press office,

Email: roger.boyde@leeds.gov.uk