HS2 Hub station plan for Crewe

Crewe was not even mentioned in the government’s new £36bn transport proposals – despite being at the heart of the HS2 scheme before it was scrapped this week, writes Belinda Ryan.

Labour and Independent councillors were scathing in their attack on the government for scrapping the northern leg of HS2, saying it was a ‘slap in the face’ for Crewe, Cheshire East and the North.

At Thursday’s meeting of the corporate policy committee, Conservative members said they shared their disappointment and would speak to local Tory MPs to try and mitigate the fall-out.

Cllr Connor Naismith, who is Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Crewe & Nantwich, was furious the scheme had been scrapped.

“It’s clear that the Prime Minister has deprived Crewe and this local authority of a huge opportunity to achieve its potential,” he fumed.

“What’s worse, it appears that not a single transport project announced in the Network North document published is specifically aimed at Crewe, so we’ve lost our place at the heart of the biggest infrastructure and transport project in this country for decades and have been handed scraps from the table to compensate.”

Cheshire East’s deputy leader Craig Browne (Ind), who chairs the council’s highways committee, said the first and most obvious project linked to HS2 to be impacted, is the proposed redevelopment of Crewe Station and the aspirations for a multi-modal hub, multi-modal access and the transfer deck ‘which clearly now are at significant risk, to put it mildly’.

He said a number of other projects around the station ‘most obviously the redevelopment of the land around the station’ were also impacted, as were schemes further afield such as the Middlewich Bypass and the dualling of the A500.

“This is going to leave a £750m black hole in the economy of Crewe. Five hundred new jobs that had been expected will now not be delivered but perhaps, most importantly of all, the investment decision that business had planned to make will either have to be scaled back or will not happen at all,” said Cllr Browne.

“This is devastating news to the borough… Over the coming days and weeks we will need to think as a council, along with our strategic partners, what we can salvage from this decision.”

Council leader Sam Corcoran (Lab) said Cheshire East did write to the Prime Minister when rumours started, calling for talks before any decision was made ‘but what actually happened is the decision has been taken with no consultation and I think that must be open to challenge’, he said.

With regard to a question from Cllr Naismith about the impact on the council’s finances, Cllr Corcoran said: “We’ve invested £11m in this project, of which £8m is likely to have to be written off now that the project has been cancelled and you’ll see the significance of that – more than half our reserves are potentially written off at a stroke as a result of this decision on which we were not consulted and not involved.”

He was clearly furious with the ‘mitigation issues’.

“Crewe did not get a mention, but Cheshire did not get a mention at all – that’s disgraceful when this is a key project for our area and Crewe wasn’t mentioned, Cheshire wasn’t mentioned,” said the council leader.

“The Stoke to Leek route is being re-opened with a new station, I think that’s good news. But what about the Mid Cheshire line with Middlewich station being re-opened? Why isn’t that on the list of mitigation measures?

“We do need to keep campaigning on this – not just to review the decision but also to say what are the mitigations to make sure that Crewe gets the regeneration it deserves.”

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