Thursday, October 27, 2016

News: LEP wants further studies into HS2 in Sheffield city region

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The Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and Combined Authority will commission an independent study to explore ways to minimise HS2 Ltd's new proposed line's impact on local homes, communities and businesses.

The South Yorkshire HS2 station location was initially chosen as Meadowhall but a new option announced in July proposes that HS2 services between London and Sheffield would take a spur off the high speed line and travel directly to the existing Sheffield Midland station using the existing railway line.

A city centre station solution for Sheffield high speed services would allow the main HS2 line to be built east of the previously proposed route, following the M1 and M18 through Rotherham before heading through the Dearne Valley.

LEPs are the Government's model to promote economic development and provide the strategic leadership required to set out local economic priorities, and better reflect the natural economic geography of the areas they serve. Private sector led, the board is made up of business people and the leaders of constituent councils.

Whilst vocal in its support for HS2 coming to the city region, the LEP has always declined to commit to backing a specific site for a South Yorkshire station and instead reiterated its stance that the location should be based on achieving the greatest economic benefit.

Following a meeting this week, all leaders are agreed that HS2 is important for the future growth of the city region but that this study is needed so that, if the new proposal is accepted, the disruption to homes and communities is minimised. Doncaster and Rotherham remain opposed to the new proposals put forward by HS2 Ltd earlier this year.

Previous connectivity studies for the LEP for the two previous locations - Meadowhall and Sheffield Victoria - were carried out in 2015 to the same level of detail to allow the city region to prepare business case estimates and more detailed cost scenarios for both locations.

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Sir Steve Houghton, Chair of Sheffield City Region Combined Authority, said: "Local leaders support HS2 and recognise its importance to strong, sustained growth in Sheffield City Region and the North. However, we share concerns about the impact on local communities if the new proposed route is accepted by Government and we are working in partnership to put forward the strongest possible case for a realigned route which is less disruptive to our local communities."

Sir Nigel Knowles, Chair of Sheffield City Region LEP, added: "HS2 has the potential to bring transformational change to our city region but we must ensure that we maximise its potential so that it benefits all residents and businesses and has as little negative impact on homes and communities as possible."

As reported by Rothbiz last month, the LEP is also seeking "a clear and unequivocal commitment to constructing the loop north of Sheffield to the main HS2 line" and pressure is being applied for the Government to commission a study on the potential for a parkway station on the M18/Eastern leg route which could serve the South Yorkshire area as a whole.

HS2 Ltd believe that the new route would create the possibility of classic compatible services running through Sheffield Midland to other destinations, including Barnsley, Meadowhall and Rotherham. However, a link North from Sheffield Midland and back onto the HS2 line has not been confirmed but may be included in proposals for HS3 / Northern Powerhouse Rail which aims to link Sheffield with Leeds and Manchester in under 30 minutes.

Local leaders are asking Government for both the parkway station and the northern loop to be included in their hybrid legislation.

Sheffield City Region LEP website

Images: Sheffield City Region LEP


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