Thursday, January 30, 2014

News: Rotherham Council supports Meadowhall as HS2 station location

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Rotherham Council is backing Meadowhall as the location for the South Yorkshire HS2 station and has echoed calls for more to be done to improve connectivity to the rest of the region.

HS2 is the Government's £50 billion high speed rail project that aims to provide extra capacity to handle increasing demand. By 2033, a South Yorkshire station will be on the proposed route from London to Leeds via Birmingham and the East Midlands. With trains travelling at speeds of up to 250 mph, and each with up to 1,100 seats per train, passengers will be able to get from Leeds in 17 minutes, Birmingham in 38 minutes and from London in one hour and nine minutes.

Plans including the proposed location of a HS2 station at Meadowhall were announced last year with an expectation that it would support the creation of around 5,000 jobs in the station development regeneration areas around Meadowhall and the Lower Don Valley.

A report by KPMG recently estimated that HS2 could add between £0.5 billion and £0.9 billion each year to the economic output of South Yorkshire and increase output in Rotherham by as much as £272m each year.

In responding to the national consultation, Cllr. Roger Stone, leader of Rotherham Council, said: "Rotherham Council strongly supports the inclusion of the Sheffield city region (SCR) in the High Speed Two network because it will provide much needed capacity and significantly enhance journey times from SCR to London, and other core regional cities including Leeds, Nottingham, Derby and Birmingham.

"RMBC anticipates that the beneficial economic impact of the HS2 station at Meadowhall will not be confined solely to the immediate proximity of the station itself but, with improved connections from Rotherham and the other urban centres in the Sheffield city region, the development and economic growth impact will be seen across the SCR."

It follows on from the response by the South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE), on behalf of the South Yorkshire Integrated Transport Authority (ITA), that explained how improvements to connectivity and a masterplan for the area around Meadowhall would help the region harness the economic growth that the HS2 project could bring.

With Rotherham town centre just six minutes away by rail, the council believes that it is ideally placed to maximise the journey time savings and productivity benefits from HS2. For example a train journey to Leeds from Rotherham can currently take over an hour in peak times. This would be reduced to under 30 minutes using HS2.

The council also believes that HS2 can help increase the number of businesses and employment opportunities in Rotherham significantly, especially in areas such as the town centre, Parkgate and the Lower Don Valley. It is also expected to enhance the access to the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) from London and other regions and help enhance and stimulate much needed housing growth in the borough.

Some improvements between Rotherham and Meadowhall are already committed, such as the tram-train and the Bus Rapid Transit system, but Rotherham Council is calling on more to be done. This includes calls for dualling the Holmes Chord, the single rail track that restricts rail stops at Rotherham central; improving the current tram-trail trial and extending it through the Dearne Valley; and an investment fund for modifying the existing rail network.

The consultation response also urges the government to reconsider the route as it approaches Meadowhall from the South given that landowners, Harworth Estates estimates that it would affected 1,000 of the the 4,000 proposed homes on its important Waverley site.

Other commercial areas affected by the route include the Home Decor facility and development site on the former Laycast foundry and a number of commercial properties at Catcliffe including Boundary Mill, Morrisons and JTF Warehouse.

The route would have an even bigger impact on Waverley if Sheffield Council were to get its wish for the station to be located closer to the city centre at Victoria. That would also affect the newly built houses at Waverley, part of the AMP site, and the site outlined by Rolls-Royce for a new facility to support nuclear manufacturing.

Rotherham Council's response also discusses the impacts of HS2 on communities and housing in Catcliffe and Swallownest, the impact on the environment and the highways network.

It also urges the government to begin work on the project in the North jointly with work in the South and that the route through the region to Leeds should be constructed at the same time as the route to Manchester.

HS2 website

Images: SYPTE

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