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24/02/2016

Remodel maintenance depot to maximise job opportunities - HS2 committee

Words: Laura Edgar
HS2 train

The final report by the High Speed Rail (London-West Midlands) Bill Select Committee recommends that the maintenance depot at Washwood Heath should be remodelled to maximise local job opportunities.

The report (pdf) also recommends greater noise protection for Wendover, where petitioners were concerned about operational and construction noise effects and a longer Chilterns bored tunnel with a north portal at South Heath, resulting in reduced construction effects.

The former LDV Alstom site in Washwood Heath, Birmingham, will be the location for HS2’s rolling stock maintenance depot. The report says the area is an area of “high unemployment and although the depot would create jobs, Liam Byrne, Labour MP for Birmingham Hodge Hill, put forward to the committee that the site’s “potential for additional regeneration needed more recognition”.

The report explains that through the work of HS2 technical director Andrew McNaughton, proposals have been developed to permit 30 per cent less land take through the provision of underground balancing pods.

“The area potentially to be handed back after construction is 50 per cent greater than in the bill scheme,” says the report. This, according to Byrne, could result in the creation of up to 3,000 jobs rather than 300.

Byrne said the creation of 3,000 jobs is a “huge breakthrough” for East Birmingham.

“It has been a slow, patient slog through the corridors of power at Westminster. But we've got a deal that could now transform the jobs market in Hodge Hill and Washwood Heath.

“The struggle now is to get the land released ASAP. That means it’s time for Birmingham City Council to step up to the plate and join East Birmingham's MPs making the case in the House of Lords.”

Tim Hellier, head of planning and environment group at law firm Berwin Leighton Paisner, who acted on behalf of the landowner, said: “From the outset we insisted that the marshalling yard design could be modified to materially reduce permanent land take, thus increasing the amount of land available for employment purposes at Washwood Heath.

“We are grateful to the select committee for accepting our arguments and requiring HS2 to work with our team to achieve this positive outcome.”

The report can be found here (pdf).

Image credit | HS2

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