Clever money looking for a home in the North West need look no further than the 40 square miles of Cheshire and North Staffordshire covered by the Constellation Partnership, writes Jackie Sadek.
This is a ground-breaking partnership of seven local authorities and two Local Enterprise Partnerships. Centred on three transport hubs at Crewe, Stoke-on-Trent and Stafford, the mission of the partnership is to capitalise on the massive investment that the Government is making into the national high speed rail network. And, in particular, the HS2 interchange at Crewe.
The Constellation Partnership describes itself accurately as “the place where the UK connects” because of its unrivalled 360 degree connectivity on the national road and rail network. It already contributes £29bn to the UK economy each year, but the vision is that, through HS2, a minimum of an extra 120,000 jobs and 100,000 homes can be created by 2040 across the Constellation Partnership area.
As the chair of the Partnership for the last twelve months (as well as working closely with the partners for two years prior to taking up post) I can see the massive potential of the area. Having worked in London Docklands in the early 1980s, I have seen first-hand what is required as impetus for a game-changing new office location, and Crewe has all the fundamentals in place, and more. In fact I would argue that Crewe is better placed now, than Canary Wharf ever was at the same moment in its development.
HS2 will re-shape the economic geography of the UK and its impact on the Constellation area
, will be so huge that it really will become a leading economic powerhouse in the UK.
The depositing of the HS2 Bill in parliament earlier this year has given the partnership real impetus (that magical attribute of sheer certainty) and has already resulted in great interest in this area’s future, from Stafford, Stoke-on-Trent and Crewe and everywhere in between. In exactly 10 years from now, Crewe will be 55 minutes from London, 20 minutes from Manchester and 20 minutes from Birmingham. And, crucially, the public sector controls much of the land around Crewe station (and throughout the Constellation conurbation) that could potentially be developed. So I defy anyone to find a better potential location in the country.
From 2027, HS2 will not only deliver a step change in travel times, it will transform access to labour jobs and housing markets, boosting skills and increasing rail capacity for local services and freight. HS2 enhanced infrastructure will build on existing comprehensive transport links to ensure easy access to and across a region that numbers 1.3m people, larger than any UK regional city.
It is hardly surprising then, that I am 100% confident that this programme is going to take off, and truly capture the imagination. I predict there will be a rush of potential investors following the publication of the Constellation Growth Strategy. Make no mistake, it will be the early bird who will catch the worm. Because the success of this programme is totally assured.
- Jackie Sadek is chief executive of UK Regeneration and chair of the Constellation Partnership
The North West in 2018 series features guest contributors looking ahead to next year and is published throughout December.