Manchester repeats calls for rethink of Piccadilly HS2 station
The city council has warned that the creation of an overground station would “squander some of the huge potential benefits of the once-in-a-lifetime project”, urging the government to consider an underground alternative.
By changing tack on the station plan, Manchester City Council claims the local economy could benefit from £333m more a year than if the overground station goes ahead.
The city council’s calls for a rethink come as the government prepares to deposit the HS2 bill, which would pave the way for the construction of the Crewe to Manchester phase of the network.
“We have one shot at this and we can’t afford to get it wrong,” said Manchester City Council leader Bev Craig.
While supporting the arrival of HS2, the council claims that an overground station would take up land that could otherwise be used for development, limiting HS2’s catalytic impact.
Estimates from independent advisors suggest that extra land required by the overground station and its associated infrastructure would result in the loss of 123 acres of land that could have supported around 14,000 jobs, the city council said.
In addition, the overground station would create the need for “unwelcome infrastructure” that would “dominate parts of the city”. The construction of “huge concrete viaducts” would overshadow parts of East Manchester”, the council added.
Finally, the city council argues the overground station offers no scope to increase passenger numbers in the years ahead, “compromising its reliability and resilience”.
“The overground plan is the wrong one. It will be cheaper to build in the short term but in the long term it will cost the region’s economy much more in missed opportunities,” Craig added.
“We urge the Government and HS2 to reconsider the compelling case for an underground station. If they want the option that delivers the greatest benefits for years to come, they need to look below the surface.”
The overground/underground debate has been going on for several years. In 2020, an alternative proposal from architecture studio Weston Williamson + Partners and consultancy Expedition, claimed an underground station at Manchester Piccadilly “could save billions”.