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Wednesday 18 February 2015

Cheshire East gears up to maximise HS2 jobs boost


Cheshire East Council is gearing up to capitalise on the opportunities that will be created by the HS2 high-speed rail link.

Economic assessments have concluded that up to 64,000 jobs could be created as businesses flock to take advantage of locating less than an hour away from London.

A report to the Council’s Cabinet points out that the North West HS2 superhub station could create a ‘development corridor’ stretching from Northwich to Stoke-on-Trent and following the routes of the M6 and HS2.

The report adds: “Northwich, Winsford, Middlewich, Congleton, Crewe, Sandbach, Alsager, Newcastle-under-Lyme and Stoke-on-Trent will all contribute towards employment sites and housing and benefit from new road and rail links providing regenerated town centres, greater prosperity and improved quality of life to residents.

“Links between the station and the M6 via local ‘A’ roads are going to be vital

to commuters and businesses accessing HS2 from the broader sub-region if the benefits of this highly connected location are going to be maximised.”

Councillor Michael Jones, Leader of Cheshire East Council, said: “Even though the Government has not yet formally decided on Crewe as the location for the North West HS2 superhub, the Council is working on a strategy to create a ‘High Growth City’ to make sure we secure the right level of investment.

“We are considering how the expected growth in Crewe and the surrounding area will affect demand for services like education, health, leisure and waste and we will ensure that plans are in place to prepare for it.”

To improve transport links ready for the arrival of HS2 in 2027, the Council will lobby for:

  • a dual carriageway A500 expressway, linking Crewe to Junction 16 of the M6;
  • improved road links between Crewe and Middlewich and the reopening of the Middlewich rail line and station to passenger services, connecting Knutsford and Northwich to the superhub;
  • improved rail links between Crewe, Congleton and Macclesfield;
  • a local transit link connecting Crewe town centre to the superhub, if the current Crewe station is deemed unsuitable for HS2.

The report, from the Council’s High Growth City project task and finish group, points out that the A500 expressway, North Crewe Link Road and rail developments to

Middlewich and the Potteries are being planned for 2020 onwards. But it adds that ‘a great deal of consideration needs to be given to how these projects are going to be delivered and funded’.

The Council will work with the Department for Transport, Highways Agency, Local Enterprise Partnership and neighbouring authorities to devise a strategy for improving the sub-region’s infrastructure before HS2 is completed.

Industry sectors expected to benefit most strongly from locating close to the superhub include advanced engineering, research and development, distribution and logistics, retail, leisure and back office functions for high-value professional services.

A university technical college in Crewe, due to open in September 2016, will play a vital role in ensuring that the local workforce is capable of filling new vacancies in the engineering, design and manufacturing sectors.

The report also calls on the Council to develop a local communication strategy to ensure that residents and local businesses understand and support the benefits that HS2 will bring.

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