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Connectivity and regeneration

Source: Public Sector Executive April/May 2014

Birmingham is not alone in making grand plans ahead of HS2’s arrival – Manchester also has plans for a ‘10-figure’ regeneration scheme around Piccadilly station and the planned neighbouring high-speed terminus. PSE heard from Transport for Greater Manchester’s Martin Lax and Dave Newton, Network Rail’s Clive Woods, and HS2’s Ian Jordan.

HS2 when it arrives, will have a station at Manchester Airport just south of the city, and another right in the city centre next to the existing Manchester Piccadilly station. A 7.5-mile high speed rail tunnel under the city will join the two.

The Greater Manchester Combined Authority of the 10 councils in the city region, Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM), Manchester Airport Group and the Greater Manchester LEP all backed the idea of the two stations and their locations in their response to the HS2 consultation on the phase two route, submitted in January.

But speaking at the ‘High Speed Rail – Vision into Reality’ event in Manchester, organised by The Insititution of Engineering and Technology with Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB), Martin Lax explained the improvements the city wants made.

Lax, who is seconded to TfGM from PB, said the key priorities were to accelerate the scheme to reduce the amount of disruption at Piccadilly and to reap the benefits of HS2 and of regeneration sooner, and to ensure a ‘build it once’ approach is taken, rather than years of construction projects one after the other.   

He said that “if possible” Manchester wants the work at Piccadilly to be done “in line with HS2 phase one work”.

He said the ‘vision’ for the new stations is inspired by King’s Cross / St Pancras and Berlin Hauptbahnhof, both of which handle high speed and local trains, metro services, buses, taxis and cars. The stations are of very high architectural quality too, he said, matching Manchester’s vision.

He added: “We spent some time in the run-up to the consultation thinking through what we wanted to deliver. We want to work with engineers and architectural practices to develop a new area of Manchester city centre, and an integrated solution at the station.”

The ‘HS2 Manchester Piccadilly Strategic Regeneration Framework’ draft document, published in August 2013 by Bennetts Associates, gives an idea of the regeneration plans and some initial ideas on how Piccadilly, the new HS2 terminus and the Metrolink tram network can be integrated together. It also sets out plans for a mixed-use development of about 14m sq ft, including a new ‘leafy boulevard’ linking the city centre with east Manchester, a new business district, an ‘East Village’ of waterside homes, shops and offices, and thousands of new homes.

There is also work to be done at the airport, ensuring the new HS2 station is accessible by public transport and car.

Discussing the wish to accelerate the scheme, Lax said: “Particularly around [Piccadilly], we’re keen to avoid blight. We want to get
on with the redevelopment – as soon as the station is built, and the boulevards are aligned, we can start developing the sites and regenerating that area.

“We want to ‘build once’. There are a number of elements in Piccadilly – Metrolink, the regeneration framework, bus facilities, HS2, Network Rail improvements. We don’t want 20 or 30 years of one thing being done, then another, then another. We want a coherent plan that delivers a scheme that has the capacity for the next 40 or 50 years.

“Clearly we want an enhanced scheme. It needs to reflect the vision and aspiration of Greater Manchester and it needs to be
integrated, the modes within the scheme have to work together and connect with the surrounding area.”

Network Rail’s Clive Woods, who also spoke at the event, discussed the need to “make those interchanges as smooth and as seamless as possible”, and to conduct more research to get passenger views on this.

HS2’s phase two director Ian Jordan outlined the jobs and economic benefits for Manchester, Leeds and other areas from HS2. But he added: “All the evidence from abroad and from the Continent is that when you’ve got strong, strategic local and regional leadership, you can drive success. You see that in places like Lyon and Lille. But equally, there are parts of the TGV network [France’s high-speed railway] where the local economy has been all but unaffected. That’s been pretty closely aligned to the degree, strength and commitment of local leadership.”

Discussing the direct and indirect boost to jobs and growth in the north west, Jordan said: “[HS2] leads potentially to a 1.7%
increase annually in the economic output of Greater Manchester over the time the railway is open. That’s £1.3bn a year, the size of the economy of somewhere like Cambridge – it is actually huge.

“It’s not just something that HS2 can do on its own. Infrastructure is…an enabler and a supporter – what’s important is working within strong partnerships with strong local leadership, which we know we certainly have here in Greater Manchester.”

TfGM strategy director Dave Newton promised that Manchester is keen to provide that local leadership to achieve the biggest benefit possible. 


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