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.”