Saturday 18 September 2021
12.2 C
Nottingham

Concerns over East Midlands HS2 as new link road progresses

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The Government has reaffirmed its commitment to high-speed rail travel in the East Midlands amid concerns over the future of HS2.

Members of Nottinghamshire County Council’s economic development and asset management (EDAM) committee raised fears over the major project when discussing a new link road in Toton.

The £30 million road, connecting to Chetwynd, has been given approval to start pre-construction and design work.

It comes as part of a large infrastructure project connecting to the potential HS2 site in Toton, unlocking up to 4,500 homes, jobs and a skills hub.

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Around 1,500 of the homes will be set aside for Chetwynd Barracks.

Toton has been earmarked as a large hub for phase 2b of the rail project, running predominantly through the East Midlands towards Leeds.

But councillors feared the future prospects of the high-speed line’s eastern leg after a review suggested it could be shelved.

Budget concerns have been raised as the £100 billion project grows more expensive, despite work on the first, southern phase currently being under way.

Councillor Kate Foale is leader of the Labour group and represents Beeston Rylands.

Speaking at the meeting, she welcomed the link road but said: “Just a little bit of caution here because we’re still unsure if HS2 is going to arrive.

“I’m a little bit concerned, if this is in place [without HS2], to what extent it is still really needed.

“I know the road around that area is particularly needed, and there are plans for the housing to carry on whether HS2 arrives or not.

“But [is] this money well spent? I believe it is, but a little reassurance that, whether HS2 does arrive in Toton or not, this will still be needed and used, and is actually a good use of public money.”

The link road will be built to the east of Bardills Island, connecting the A52 with Toton Lane.

It was given unanimous backing to progress, with £100,000 set side for pre-construction costs.

Councillor Keith Girling (Con), chairman of the EDAM committee, recognised Cllr Foale’s concerns but believes the link road “shows the Government we are prepared” for HS2.

Matthew Neal, service director for investment and growth on the council, added the project “isn’t just about High Speed 2”, supporting the ‘strategic masterplan’ of Toton and Chetwynd regardless of HS2.

But responding to the councillors’ concerns, the Department for Transport has reaffirmed its stance on rail infrastructure in the region.

A department spokesperson said its integrated rail plan, due to be published this year, will address how HS2 phase 2b will deliver “reliable train services” across the Midlands.

The spokesperson added: “We are committed to enabling the East Midlands, Yorkshire and the North East to reap the benefits of high-speed rail services.

“The integrated rail plan will consider how to sequence the delivery of Phase 2b to ensure benefits are realised to a quicker timescale and to ensure it is integrated with plans for Northern Powerhouse Rail and other rail investment projects.”

The rail plan is expected to be published after parliament’s summer recess.