At a consultation teeming with interested locals and property owners – but perhaps surprisingly, no protestors – HS2 has outlined its route into Manchester via the airport, while a number of major pinch points, and possible development opportunities, have been identified.
The event held yesterday at Altrincham’s Cresta Court hotel set out how the route of the high-speed rail line would arrive into a new station at Manchester Airport and continue its onward journey into Manchester, before terminating at Manchester Piccadilly.
See gallery below for full route maps
Much of the route through to Manchester is tunnelled, with the high speed train entering a tunnel as it travels through the new Airport station under Newall Green, heading into Piccadilly via Northenden, Didsbury, Longsight, Belle Vue, and West Gorton.
The route, however, throws up a number of question marks and opportunities, as documents provided by HS2 at the consultation have revealed.
On the approach to Piccadilly, two major sites have been earmarked as main construction compounds, highlighted in cream on the maps. These sites are likely to be cleared; the largest is off Ashton Old Road while another sits just outside the proposed HS2 station off Fairfield Street. Once construction completes in 2033, these are likely to be released for development.
Two smaller sites off Store Street and Chapeltown Street are also earmarked as construction compounds, while “satellite construction compounds”, highlighted in orange are set to take land off Crane Street and William Street.
Much of the land is in multiple ownership but HS2 has already started the process of either buying up the land or informing landowners that it will require those sites in the future.
HS2 was quick to emphasise the design of the station is still being developed, but senior figures in Manchester, including chief executive of Manchester City Council Joanne Roney and Metro Mayor Andy Burnham have publicly called for the station to be underground, rather than over ground.
Another station approach will also throw up its fair share of challenges as the line runs into a new station at Manchester Airport. The proposed station sits north of the M56 just off Junction 6, and while the design is still under development there are numerous issues the proposed route throws up.
First, a junction between J6, Hale Road, and Hasty Lane is being designed, which will join the motorway network to the station and to Hale. Much of the through traffic from Altrincham to the airport station will remain via Hale Road.
The track runs under the M56 on its approach, but maps show it running directly through much of the existing Marriott Hotel off the Junction 6 roundabout; a large chunk of this site has also been set aside as a construction compound.
Elsewhere, houses off Hasty Lane have been highlighted as one of the satellite construction compounds, although representatives from HS2 said “we would like to avoid having to buy that land if we can help it”.
Access to the construction site of the new station will be via Brooks Drive – home to some of the most expensive houses in the local area – while the largest construction compound for the station will be on farmland off Shay Lane, Roaring Gate Lane, and Thorley Lane, the latter of which will be realigned. Much of the existing Timperley Brook will end up being built over under the current plans.
Further along the approach, the over ground line runs past Rostherne Mere and Ashley, an area which will see a number of new bridges and road realignments.
Parts of Ashley Road will be diverted via a new connection, still in development, to Mobberley Road, where the line crosses the existing Manchester-to-Chester railway line.
Before Rostherne, the track will cross the A556 near Junction 8 of the M56, before running alongside the motorway into the new airport station.
Following its exit from the Airport, the line runs underground, but a number of sites have been set aside for ventilation shafts along the railway’s route.
The first of these will sit at Junction 3A where the M56 joins the Princess Parkway; followed by another situated on Withington Golf Course as the line runs under Northenden and the M60. After this, another ventilation shaft will be built on the junction of Ferndale Road and Wilmslow Road, near The Christie in Didsbury.
A final ventilation shaft on the approach, along with an electricity substation, is proposed for site next to Birchfields Primary School in Rusholme.
The route will remain at the design stage through the rest of the year, with feedback from a series of consultations being weaved into the proposals, according to HS2, with an environmental impact assessment coming by the end of this year.
It is expected to take around three years to get a hybrid bill for Phase 2b through Parliament – including considering public objections, any recommendations on how the plans should change, voting, and royal assent. This process is expected to run between 2019 and 2022.
Construction is expected to begin in 2023 and will take nine years, followed by a commissioning period to test the railway before it opens by the end of 2033.
A number of issues were raised by those in attendance at the consultation but much of the concern focussed around construction traffic, congestion, and disruption during the construction process – particularly around Altrincham, Hale, and Cheshire, which is no surprise given the consultation being hosted at the Cresta Court.
HS2 has set out detailed plans around its construction methodology, traffic management, and environmental practices, but concerns will remain about the inevitable disruption that the construction process will cause.
Around the airport, properties worth multi-million sums will come under pressure, and while HS2 has set out its compensation packages and its desire to minimise any impact on existing homes, some residents will inevitably object to the proposals – particularly around Hasty Lane, Hale Road, and the new airport station.
Towards Manchester, civic and political leaders will continue to battle for their favoured solution – an underground HS2 station which could link to new Metrolink lines and the proposed Northern Powerhouse Rail – but getting Government on side may prove to be a challenge.
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