Crewe was ideally located to benefit from HS2. Credit: via Cheshire East

Cheshire East asks for HS2 damages after Crewe ‘levelled down’ 

The council is pursuing £11.2m from the government to make up for the “direct and devastating impact” that scrapping the northern leg of the high-speed railway has wrought on Crewe and the borough. 

Cheshire East Council has confirmed it is seeking compensation following the government’s decision to cancel HS2 north of Birmingham and with it a rail hub in Crewe. 

The council is also calling on the government to invest in a new station in Crewe and contribute to the regeneration of the town to restore investor confidence. 

In a letter to rail minister Huw Herriman and secretary of state Michael Gove, the leader and deputy leader of Cheshire East have demanded a “fair and equitable deal” that would restore the long-term economic outcomes that HS2 would have unlocked for Crewe and the wider borough. 

The letter follows the publication of the government’s Network North plan, which refers to £19.8bn of reinvestment for transport in the North and identifies projects and regions that would directly benefit. 

However, the plan includes no mention of investment in Cheshire East or Crewe. 

Cllr Sam Corcoran, leader of Cheshire East Council, said the full consequences facing Crewe and the borough following the scrapping of HS2 may not become clear for several years. 

He added that Crewe, located in the middle of the HS2 northern line, was ideally placed to benefit from the infrastructure project. 

Corcoran believes Crewe may be the “biggest loser” as a result of the cancellation of the scheme amid fears that a loss of investor confidence could put the delivery of 4,500 homes and the creation of 5,000 jobs at risk. 

“HS2 was the catalyst to reverse [Crewe’s] fortunes and deliver on the levelling up agenda. 

“Without swift agreement on the alternative measures, investment, and targeted support from government – the opportunities will be lost forever.” 

He added: “The expected £750m boost HS2 would have had on the local economy will not be realised, and what we will now see because of this decision by government is in fact levelling down and not levelling up.” 

As part of its compensation package, Cheshire East is asking for: 

  • Compensation for direct and abortive council costs in relation to HS2, totalling £11.2m 
  • Funding and commitment to enable critical investments in Crewe Station, including the commitments secured through recent petitioning, and futureproofing for alternative passenger and freight rail investments 
  • Local highway, public transport, and active travel network improvements via both up-front and multi-year transport funding settlements. This includes enhanced funding for the Middlewich Eastern Bypass and A500 dualling schemes, and funding to deliver Cheshire East’s Bus Service Improvement Plan in full, to help transform local bus services 
  • Funding to support a programme to tackle deprivation challenges in Crewe to reduce levelling down because of the HS2 announcement 
  • Funding to support the continued regeneration of Crewe town centre and deliver projects that will increase the vibrancy and attractiveness of the area and help restore investor confidence following the announcement. 

Corcoran added: “We [feel] extremely let down by government’s failure to date to acknowledge or engage with us about the devastating impacts this will have on the town, the wider sub-region, and the financial security of the council in the proposed Network North. 

“We consider it necessary that government agrees a Network North deal with Cheshire East to enable the delivery of vital capital projects and regeneration programmes strategically focused on restoring the long-term outcomes for Crewe, Macclesfield and the borough that HS2 would have unlocked, and to ensure that much-needed investment in our local highway, public transport and active travel network can still be made.”

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Also lots of new houses built or being built around Crewe on the planned hs2 link !

By George

I am struggling to reconcile the comments on the CEC media release with the position stated in their Local Plan Strategy adopted in 2017, page 179:
“From its inception, Cheshire East has identified Crewe as its biggest spatial priority and has developed the All Change for Crewe: High Growth City strategy in response to this.”
HS2 is referred to as a potentially transformative impact, but this is well after their document “All change for Crewe: High Growth City” was published in September 2013:
“The Council’s emerging Core Strategy establishes the planning framework for future developments in the wider Crewe area for the period up to 2030. A range of employment sites are allocated both on the edge of the town and within the wider area, particularly the M6 corridor. To facilitate economic growth, the plan’s strategy is firmly focused upon the ‘All Change for Crewe’ initiative and thereby seeks to allocate the majority of new employment sites, and the homes needed to support new jobs, in the south of the Borough.
This approach is favoured, as land in the north of the Borough is principally constrained by the North Cheshire Green Belt and other environmental considerations.”
I feel that it’s unfair to blame central government or to seek compensation.
Ten years ago, CEC was run by the Conservatives – preventing development in the North by not amending Green Belt boundaries would have been in their nature – and they appear to have stated this as the core direction of their strategy.
Now it looks like both the north and the south of the borough have lost out economically due to their decision, and the Local Plan might need revising to release sites for housing in the north where they are really needed.

By Anonymous

The cancellation of HS2 will in due course be seen to have been a catastrophic error for the regions and for the country as a whole. What is proposed as a replacement just seems to be a cloud of smoke.

By David Morris

Crewe has always been the poor relation of Cheshire. I completely agree with the council pursuing compensation. Also the Middlewich Eastern bypass is vital for the small market town. The amount of large lorries that come through the small market town has increased significantly since we moved here 6 years ago and is made worse when there is problems on the m6. A serious accident is waiting to happen.

By Anonymous

Without a doubt, the scapping of HS2 on Crewe is devastating, my son moved there in the hope that buying a property there would reap some reward, added to the fact that the local community will now miss out yet again leaving the North of England out in the cold again, Rishi Sunak has absolutely no idea about poverty, living on the breadline, he does not care

By Kelly

These pathetic sums of money Sunak is giving out are laughable. 16m to GM with 3m people. Not only laughable but insulting.

By Elephant

What were the benefits to Macclesfield?

By Anonymous

Among the things the council might care to consider is insisting that the decision to sell off land acquired for HS2 is reversed, so that the project can more easily be revisited in the future.

By Roger

HS2, what a total waste of money, just to save a few minutes off a journey, paid by the government, should be paid by the train companies.

By Anonymous

I do not know how many time Cheshire East where warned about putting there eggs in Hs2 basket. Sorry but it’s been very clear from the outset that there was never any plan to bring hs2 to the North West. When the original budget where drawn up by the treasury department there was never any money for hs2 beyond Birmingham but no one would listen. The council went into fantasy land with town centre drawing and pedestrian ways from station to town centre with shop restaurant housing lining the the walk way with green spaces. It was total fantasy. No,one would listen to the sobouring facts that this would not happen. Now crew town looks like a bomb site.

By Keith

Absolutely shocking decision by the government this will have a devastating impact on our area and next generation for years to come

By mark yeomans

CEC complaining is laughable they put all there eggs in one basket and now it’s gone

By Dan

The decision to scrap the HS2 leg from Birmingham to Manchester has effectively put anything north of the former back 100 years.
Meanwhile billions will continue to be spent on transport infrastructure in London and the South East.
It’s clearly a political decision as right away the Government are looking to sell the land along the route to negate the possibility of the line being resurrected.

By Peter Chapman

Will now stay a dump not a great railway town we used to have.

By Anonymous

It was only going to benefit London.
We were lead up the garden path.
It was only stopping where there were airports
There were no costs of tickets so even if London gets Birmingham Airport. The few who
Can afford the tickets it’s hardly going to make a profit

By Anonymous

Crewe has always been the hub of locomotives being built in Crewe Works. The station being in the centre of the country would be ideal for HS2.. It was vital that we had HS2 running through Crewe. It is obvious that people running HS2 have No knowledge of our heritage with the railways. These people take on the top jobs with no respect of for Crewe and what it had achieved for the railways. Manchester to London via Crewe was a cert for HS2 The jobs It would have created was phenomenal.. The government can’t afford not to have HS2 in Crewe and Manchester. Crewe is in the centre of England. You have enough trains going to London from other areas.

By Com

@anonymous Macc would have benefitted from improved frequency of services to Manchester based on taking high speed services off the WCML/Stoke line. Less sure however whether its existing London services would have been maintained

By Levelling Up Manager

@Levelling Up Manager This is an important point as you suggest that Macc would benefit from improved frequency of services to Manchester. However, the current benefit for Macc is that it benefits from fast links into Manchester via the Avanti/Cross Country services from London. These take circa 20 mins into Manchester whereas the Northern stoppers take circa 30-35 mins. Even if the frequency of these was increased following the removal of the national links on the WCML, unless new express services were established this would result to an unprecedented levelling down for Macc.

By Anonymous

Do not give cheshire east another penny to waste, they are to blame for turning crewe into a dump not the government.

By Anonymous

The Government has made to many promises and let Crewe down time and time again. Crewe is a ghost town endless empty shops.we need that money to invest for the future of our town and our children.

By Anonymous

The cancellation of HS2 is a national infrastructure disaster. It simply defers problems to another incoming government who will have to build it anyway. What a wasted opportunity and spectacular own goal from tory charlatans that could never replicate the vision and confidence of Brunel or Gresley

By Gwilym Selwood

The fundamentals of the project feasibility changed dramatically with Covid and Working-from-home. I agree with the Northern section cancellation.

By Neil

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