Underground Manchester Piccadilly HS2 station plans are ‘oven-ready’
Architecture firm Weston Williamson + Partners has said its designs for a possible underground HS2 hub, first developed two years ago, are ready if the government opts to rethink its HS2 bill.
Both Manchester City Council leader Bev Craig and Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham have shared their objections to the HS2 bill that is to be laid before Parliament today. Their chief concern is the bill’s proposal for an overground HS2 station for Piccadilly.
Craig stated that while the overground plan would be cheaper to build in the short term, “in the long term it will cost the region’s economy much more in missed opportunities”. The city council also said that constructing concrete viaducts to support the station and line would result in the loss of 123 acres of land for proposed development.
Burnham echoed Craig’s concerns.
“Building HS2 on the surface at Manchester Piccadilly means the new station will be at full capacity from day one,” Burnham said. “It means the new train services from Liverpool and Leeds having to reverse out. And it also means forever losing prime development land and the economic opportunity that goes with it.”
Burnham has insisted that an underground station is the way to go.
“We believe there is a better plan which would do much more to level up the North of England with the South,” he said. “An underground station would be an investment in building a bigger Northern economy and would pay for itself over time. It could also help deliver an entirely new line between Manchester and Leeds, which is what we were promised.
“We call on the government to listen to the North and work with us to get the right solution. This decision will have a huge bearing on the future of the North for the rest of this century and the next and it is vital that it is not sold short.”
Weston Williamson + Partners is no stranger to station design, having completed two stations for the Elizabeth Line in London and oversaw the redevelopment of London’s Waterloo station.
The architectural practice’s proposals call for the hub to sit underneath a pedestrianised forecourt known as Station Square. The station would also be a through station rather than HS2 terminus, which would allow for high-speed train services between Liverpool and Leeds via Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly.
A high-speed rail tunnel would need to be built beneath central Manchester to make the plans work. The tunnel would curve to the north-east to follow the M62 corridor.
Weston Williamson + Partners worked alongside Expedition Engineering to craft its own underground station plans in 2020. In a press release, the firm said that the plans were “oven-ready” and that the council was right to ask the government to reconsider its plans.
“HS2 will be transformational for Manchester, and yet the current plans for HS2 would turn Piccadilly into a dead-end, destroy much of the city and put a stop to any hopes for onward high-speed connections to Leeds,” said Weston Williamson + Partners founder Rob Naybour.
“We want Manchester’s HS2 transformation to be a positive one: our proposals, therefore, offer an integrated hub that would better serve residents, businesses and visitors to Manchester, while also creating new opportunities for urban regeneration in the city as well as future high-speed connections to other parts of the country,” he continued.
“Manchester City Council are absolutely right to call for a re-think for Piccadilly. Our message is clear: that re-think need not take long as our proposals demonstrate how an underground hub is not only deliverable but hugely beneficial.”