Wakefield responds to latest HS2 report


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HS2 have revealed a new route through South Yorkshire and confirmed proposals to build a Sheffield city centre station. The newly proposed route will run east towards the M18 before re-joining the original route south of the M62.

This will take the line further to the east of the Wakefield district, potentially coming in just south east of South Elmsall, running to the west of Hemsworth and east side of Crofton, then joining a route north of Crofton and going west through Altofts. David Higgins, Chairman of HS2 Ltd, has also advised that a study should be carried out on the potential for a parkway station on the M18/Eastern leg, which could serve South Yorkshire.

Commenting on today's announcement Cllr Peter Box CBE, Leader of Wakefield Council said: "The report is very much focussed on the Sheffield and South Yorkshire area. However, whilst the plan to build a Sheffield city centre station would move the line away from the Walton Hall site, it will take it further to the east of the district, still affecting many of our communities and potentially Nostell Priory.

"I have already had representations from the National Trust expressing grave concerns over the proximity of the new route to Nostell. This is an area of national importance and the proposed route could have devastating consequences for one of the country's and district's most prestigious heritage sites.

"The proposed study into a possible parkway station could potentially offer benefits to the South East of the district, depending on its location. But the devil is in the detail and I would need to see the economic and environmental impacts clearly outlined in the study. This now needs to get quickly underway with total transparency and council officers fully involved.

"It is frustrating that today's report, and the meetings I have had with representatives of HS2, have done nothing to address our concerns about the economic impact of HS2. No real case has been made for the benefits to Wakefield and I am particularly concerned that we are actually facing less train services to London than we currently have.

"The report mentions the aspirations of the Northern Power House but the very fact that there is no focus on Wakefield means that, on the face of it, we stand to get poorer services at the expense of our communities and heritage. I am also disappointed at the lack of any announcement relating to investment in connectivity and or to improve the existing network to an acceptable standard.

"At the moment, I still believe that the lack of economic benefits and the environmental impact on this district remains far too great for us to support HS2."