The official public consultation on the route for High Speed Two (HS2) has now begun and Cheshire East Council is urging residents to get involved.
The Government is seeking views on the proposed high-speed rail route from the West Midlands to Manchester, Leeds and beyond.
Cheshire East Council supports the economic impact of HS2 for the Borough, especially in Crewe, but also wants to keep all environmental and blight impacts to a minimum.
The Department for Transport’s initial preferred route follows the West Coast Main Line via Crewe before passing to the west of Middlewich and through the High Legh area before splitting, with a line going north over the M56 to Manchester Airport.
This affects various villages, homes, farms and business premises in Cheshire East.
While welcoming the economic benefits any scheme could bring to the Borough and also pushing for a dedicated HS2 rail hub station in Crewe, the Council understands that people have serious concerns over potential impacts on their quality of life, house prices and blight and the future viability of farms and other businesses.
Councillor Michael Jones, Leader of Cheshire East Council, said: “This Council has been listening carefully to everybody’s concerns on HS2 since the preferred route was announced in January and now it is time to put your views directly to the Government.
“We will also be responding robustly to this consultation and will be representing our residents concerns in the strongest terms to HS2 Ltd.
“HS2 presents great benefits to this area such as increased connectivity with the rest of the country, faster travel times and more jobs but we do know our residents face uncertainty as result of this proposal and also from any disruption and environmental impacts from construction.
“So I would urge people to get involved in this consultation and to make their representations directly to HS2 Ltd.”
It will be towards the end of next year when the government announces a decision on the route, stations and depot options to be progressed to the next stage of project development. The consultation closes at 5pm on January 31, 2014.
People are also invited to provide views on how the existing rail system can be improved once HS2 is in place and on the opportunities to introduce, in the words of HS2, ‘other utilities’ along the route.
All the consultation documents and the response form can be found at www.hs2.org.uk, or ordered at www.dft.gov.uk/orderingpublications or on 0300 123 1102. A reference copy has also been provided to libraries at Crewe, Knutsford, Handforth and Middlewich and Citizens Advice Bureaux in Crewe, Knutsford and Middlewich.
Information events will also be held in Crewe and Knutsford. These will provide an opportunity to pose questions to HS2 Ltd’s staff, to seek clarity on different aspects of the proposal before they submit their response.
The events will provide the consultation information in a range of formats, including local maps, interactive maps and sound demonstrations.
They will be held at:
Victoria Community Centre, Oakley Building, West Street, Crewe, CW1 2PZ – on Friday, November 8 (noon-8pm) and Saturday, November 9 (10am-5pm);
Tatton Park, Knutsford, WA16 6QN – on Friday, December 6 (noon-8pm) and Saturday, December 7 (10am-5pm).
It would be advisable to continue checking the information in case of updates or alterations to the schedule.
You can respond to the consultation in one of the following ways:
· by completing the online response form at www.hs2.org.uk;
· by emailing your response to HS2PhaseTwoRoute@ipsos.com; or
· by freepost to:
FREEPOST RTEL-YAZX-HAZT, Phase Two Route Consultation, PO Box 1152, Harrow HA1 9LH
HS2 says that no consultation responses will be collected at the information events.