The council has pledged to maximise the “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” High Speed 2 presents for regenerating the city centre and improving connections across the North, but called for an underground HS2 station at Manchester Piccadilly and the removal of the nearby Gateway House office block.
Manchester City Council’s economy scrutiny committee expects to sign off its response to the consultation launched by the HS2 company in October and intends to submit the report to the executive committee for final approval next week.
The latest HS2 consultation details “design refinements” for the UK’s high-speed rail project – in particular, the western leg of phase 2b of the route, between Crewe and Manchester. The consultation closes on 11 December.
Station designs at both Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport have been tweaked, and a route alignment change made to reduce the impact on an existing train care facility at Ardwick, and facilitate the integration of proposed Northern Powerhouse Rail links at both high speed stations.
The consultation is expected to be the final one prior to the Government’s clearing of a hybrid legislative bill required to progress the scheme, although a further route-wide update may be published for information in advance of the bill, HS2 has said.
Manchester City Council said in its response: “The council, alongside it’s Greater Manchester partners, continues to support the development and delivery of HS2 and NPR at a local, regional and national level.
“The scheme has the potential to provide a catalyst which can attract further investment into Greater Manchester by creating a new gateway into the regional centre and boost investor confidence in the area.
“Specifically, the proposals for HS2/NPR stations at Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport provide major opportunities for stimulating economic growth and regeneration in the surrounding areas.”
Manchester’s consultation response “highlights the council’s support for the Government’s intention to progress with the proposed HS2 Phase 2b extension from Crewe to Manchester, and its consideration of the case for NPR to improve capacity, reliability and frequency of services,” the report added.
However, the council said it remained concerned by several elements of the design consultation. They are:
- it said it disagrees with the “current operational and functional design” of the proposed Manchester Piccadilly surface station, and supports alternative proposals for an HS2 and NPR-integrated underground station design for Piccadilly, which would offer capacity for future train service growth. “It is critical to the levelling up agenda that the right station is constructed in Manchester,” the report said.
- that all designs for stations and key infrastructure such as viaducts, headhouses and vent shafts, are of high quality and appropriate for their setting, and consistent with principles included in HS2’s earlier design vision document
- that HS2 stations can properly act as key gateways to the wider masterplanned areas around them, including the Piccadilly and Mayfield SRF’s at Piccadilly and Timperley Wedge and Davenport Green GMSF development areas at the Airport station, “enabling the maximum growth to be achieved”. This includes scheduling and sequencing works to avoid extended blight and to make efficient use of resources, the document states.
- the council said it believes Gateway House, an office block that sits opposite and on the approach to Piccadilly Station, be removed “to provide an appropriate entrance sequence to the station that has the capacity to accommodate the expected growth in station users” and provides an appropriate gateway to the city.
- that Manchester Airport HS2 station is a “fully integrated solution” that serves adjacent communities, and that its impact on surrounding communities and the environment is fully mitigated.
Manchester City Council noted in its draft consultation response that there are no direct financial consequences arising from its report, but urged the Department for Transport to ensure a clear funding strategy to guarantee the delivery of HS2 and NPR schemes “in their entirety”.
It added: “We remain committed to working collaboratively with HS2 Ltd and the Government to ensure that both rail schemes fully align with the economic growth context for the city, as well as adjacent and linked regeneration initiatives and other transport infrastructure schemes, to ensure that the optimum solution is delivered in Manchester, which maximises a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
This and more topics were discussed at Place North West‘s Transport + Infrastructure event last month, summarised here.