A new report sets out the changes to HS2 plans which the Council believes are essential to maximise their benefits for Manchester and the North – and to prevent or minimise less desirable impacts.
The update report, to be considered by the Executive when it meets on 22 July, outlines the key issues which the Council intends to raise in a formal ‘petition’ to Government this August.
The High Speed Crewe-Manchester Bill, which paves the way for HS2’s eventual arrival in the city, had its Second Reading in Parliament in June. It now enters a stage where affected parties, including the City, can highlight concerns and urge that they are addressed. Any issue which the Council cannot reach agreement on with HS2 Ltd will be decided by a House of Commons Select Committee.
The Council’s petition will complement petitions being submitted by other Greater Manchester authorities and Cheshire East while emphasising Manchester-specific issues, some of which have much wider implications.
Manchester Piccadilly HS2/Northern Powerhouse Rail station: Calling for this new station to be built as an underground through station rather than the surface terminus station proposed in the Bill. A surface station would be at full capacity from day one with severe risks to its resilience and reliability, unable to cope with future growth and providing a poor welcome to the city. It would also swallow more prime development land, which could support thousands of new jobs, and create the need for extensive and intrusive overground infrastructure.
Piccadilly car parking: Calling for a substantial reduction in the 2,000 car parking spaces proposed for the new station, which will fly in the face of the policy to reduce car journeys into the city centre by supporting sustainable alternatives as part of the city’s drive to become net zero carbon. The Council wants to see the creation of a transport interchange including bus and coach facilities, and much improved cycling and walking facilities. The level of car parking proposed would create more congestion and also swallow more prime development land.
Metrolink: Calling for the Bill to include powers to enable Transport for Greater Manchester to deliver a new Piccadilly Central Metrolink stop.
Demanding the provision of a new Metrolink depot at Ashton Moss to enable the Ashton line to remain open throughout the construction of HS2. Under the current proposals the Ashton line, which serves communities and major venues including the Etihad Stadium and the new Co-op Live arena, will close for around two years to be replaced by a bus service. The report describes the existing plan as “totally unacceptable.”
Highways issues – Pin Mill Brow: Calling for smaller and better integrated junction. The proposed gyratory junction layout is too big and conflicts with transport, zero carbon and air quality priorities. It also takes too much land, fails to provide adequate cycling and walking facilities and will create a poor environment.
Metrolink issues at Manchester Airport: Calling for powers to build, operate and maintain a Metrolink route that connects the HS2 airport station to the airport. As the Bill stands, TfGM’s existing powers would be removed and an isolated Metrolink stop built above the high speed station without TfGM having the powers to connect it to the wider network. This would be “totally unacceptable and inadequate.” The plan to use shuttle buses to and from the airport instead is rejected as adding to congestion and journey times.
Highways issues near Manchester Airport: Challenging the proposed HS2 Airport/Junction 6 of the M56 access which the Council does not believe will be able to cope with future traffic and does not provide adequate cycling facilities. The petition will request that HS2 Ltd work with the Council, Greater Manchester partners and National Highways to come up with a better solution.
Ventshaft issues: The tunnel which will carry HS2 from Davenport Green in Trafford to Ardwick will require a number of large ventilation shafts. The Council’s petition will call for the proposed ventshaft next to Birchfields Primary School in Fallowfield, which it also describes as “unacceptable” and says will have a negative impact on nearby schools and local amenities, to be relocated.
The petition will also demand mitigating measures for the planned ventshaft at Palatine Road in West Didsbury to ensure it does not create issues in the flood zone, and the ventshaft at Chancellor Lane and associated headhouse in Wilmslow Road to ensure it does not impact negatively on car parking and for the Christie Hospital.
Mitigation measures will also be requested to ensure that the construction of HS2 in Manchester minimises HGV movements and protects against any negative air quality and other environmental impacts.
The petition will also demand local labour initiatives, to maximise job creation in the city during the construction period, and that HS2 Ltd work to support and assist any disrupted business which needs to be relocated.
Councillor Bev Craig, Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “HS2 is a once-in-a-century opportunity and we will keep fighting to ensure we get the best possible version of it for Manchester, the region and the country as a whole. It’s a huge public investment which has the potential to deliver enormous positive results.
“Any infrastructure project on this scale is very complex and will involve some measure of disruption during its construction in order to deliver wider benefits. We have consistently supported HS2, which will bring vital capacity to our clogged railway network and has the potential to create huge opportunities.
“But we want to ensure that is delivered in the best way possible which maximises the benefits for Manchester people and businesses, minimises disruption and futureproofs the plans.”