The UK government has unveiled a preferred route for second phase of the HS2 rail project

Government's HS2 phase 2 plan could mean bulldozing residential estate

Image credit: PA

Details of the route of the second phase of the HS2 rail line to connect Crewe to Manchester, and the West Midlands to Leeds, have been revealed by the UK government, involving the possible demolition of a brand new residential estate in Sheffield.

The plan, which according to the government will provide 15,000 inter-city seats per hour, doesn’t include the originally envisioned construction of a new station in Sheffield. Instead, the existing Sheffield city centre station should serve the line. That means, however, that a brand new housing estate may need to be demolished to make space for the new infrastructure.

“The full HS2 route will be a game-changer for the country that will slash journey times and perhaps most importantly give rail passengers on the existing network thousands of extra seats every day,” said transport secretary Chris Grayling.

“But while it will bring significant benefits, I recognise the difficulties faced by communities along the route. They will be treated with fairness, compassion and respect and, as with phase 1, we intend to introduce further compensation which goes over and above what is required by law.”

Residents of the Shimmer estate, a yet to be completed housing development situated on the banks of a canal, complained about the lack of transparency and information from the government. Some only moved into the properties a few months ago.

“We used absolutely every bit of money we could get to buy this, it’s our first home,” said Leigh Smith, who moved to the estate with her family in June this year.

“Why continue selling them if they knew what was happening? To me we’ve been lied to and sold something that was never going to be our home.”

Some said the estate likely didn’t even show on the maps yet as it is entirely new.

“My neighbour rang HS2 and our house isn’t even recognised on the postcode yet, they didn’t even know it was there,” said Smith.

“When they Googled it, this wasn’t here, it was just a piece of empty land.”

In an interview with BBC Radio 4, Grayling appeared adamant the plan will go ahead and rejected the alternative option to build a new station at the Meadowhall shopping centre.

“That option has been consulted on before. It clearly remains an option we could follow but the view we have taken is that the plans we have set out today are the ones we should follow,” he said.

“We want to do the right thing by those people but it is not possible to make the kind of investment we need in the future of our transport system without some impact on people.”

Phase 1 of the £55.7bn HS2 railway is due to open in December 2026 and will see trains travel at high speed between London and Birmingham before continuing on the existing West Coast Main Line.

A second Y-shaped phase will open in two stages. Phase 2a from the West Midlands to Crewe will launch in 2027 and phase 2b, from Crewe to Manchester and from the West Midlands to Leeds, South Yorkshire and the East Midlands, will open in 2033.

In June Whitehall spending watchdog the National Audit Office (NAO) warned that the project is under financial strain.

Cost forecasts for phase one exceed available funding by £204m, while phase two contains some elements that are ‘currently unfunded’, the report said.

It went on to warn that the benefit-cost ratio of the scheme could fall from 1.7 to 1.5 if the programme is not delivered well within available funding.

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