The government was today urged to fast-track meetings with Leeds communities in the path of the proposed HS2 rail link.
A meeting of Leeds City Council’s executive board was told that HS2 chiefs are not planning to consult with concerned residents until the second half of 2013.
The planned route impacts on the wards of Rothwell, City and Hunslet, Garforth and Swillington and Kippax and Methley.
Coun Andrew Carter, Leeds City Council’s Conservative group leader, told last Friday’s meeting: “As somebody who is massively in support of this project, I accept that we can’t have 20 years of uncertainty for people.
“We have to move towards a finalisation of the route as soon as possible and people have to be properly consulted.”
Coun Stewart Golton, the council’s Liberal Democrat group leader, said some people living close to the proposed line are in an “anxious state.”
He added: “At the moment there are two decades of uncertainty for them. We already have people whose house sales have fallen through.
“In Woodlesford alongside the canal, people have saved up to move to this place and the prospect of it being turned in to a major transport corridor is not an attractive one to say the least.”
Leeds City Council leader, Coun Keith Wakefield said: “When you get the first investment in over 100 years for a line up to the north, you have got to be pretty enthusiastic and supportive of that.”
Coun Wakefield added: “I totally get the concerns people have, about 300 in Woodlesford and Swillington and elsewhere.
“That’s why I have made the offer to see if all parties can get together and meet up with HS2 and say we are not against this project.
“We are not against the investment or the project, but we would look for a discussion about those communities that may be affected.”
Leeds City Council chief executive Tom Riordan told the meeting he would seek a meeting with HS2 representatives over the issue. Around 190 residents in south and east Leeds have now joined forces to fight the HS2 plans and formally set up the Swillington, Oulton, Woodlesford, HS2, Action Together (SOWHAT) group.
Group organiser James Lynch, who lives in Woodlesford, said: “We are prisoners in our own homes – we can’t sell our houses and we can’t move.
“It’s essential to have some sort of consultation.”
Alec Shelbrooke, MP for Rothwell, met with around 120 Woodlesford residents on Maltings and Locks estates on Saturday.
They claim a planned 14m railway viaduct passing through the area has already damaged house prices.
Mr Shelbrooke, who supports HS2, said: “A major 60ft viaduct coming through a residential village is just not good enough.”
Visit: www.sowhat.org.uk for information.