Construction of a new £500m HS2 station in Leeds “may impact on residents’ quality of life” with businesses being demolished and roads being altered, high-speed rail bosses have admitted.
A summary of the potential environmental impacts of the new HS2 station, which is to be built alongside the existing Leeds railway station, states 26 commercial/business properties will be demolished, with 20 roads permanently closed, realigned or diverted.
Work on the new station is expected to start in late 2024 and take around six years to complete.
“The combination of construction noise, visual and traffic impacts would change the character of the urban area, and may impact on residents’ quality of life,” the report stated.
“Road closures and diversions would have the potential to reduce community connectivity by increasing journey times, particularly on heavily used commuter routes.
“Opportunities for physical activity may be reduced by the presence of heavy goods vehicles on local roads.
“Noise from construction could result in significant effects on residential communities closest to the construction works in the Holbeck area in Leeds Southbank; the Granary Wharf area in Leeds Southbank; and the Brewery Wharf area in Leeds Southbank.
“Construction of the Proposed Scheme has the potential to lead to additional congestion and delays for road users on a number of routes including: the M621 junctions 2 and 3; the A58(M)/A58; the A61 Great Wilson Road/Hunslet Road; Neville Street; the A653 Dewsbury Road/Meadow Road/Meadow Lane/Victoria Road/Great Wilson Street; Sovereign Street; Meadow Lane (north of A61 Great Wilson Street); Swinegate; Jack Lane; Parkfield Street; Cross Myrtle Street; Kidacre Street; Junction Street; Leathley Road; Holmes Street; Wellington Street; Aire Street; Princes Square; Thirsk Row; and Northern Street. Increases in traffic could also affect non-motorised users (i.e. pedestrians and cyclists) in terms of the ease with which they can cross these routes.
“Construction of the Proposed Scheme is also likely to result in the temporary closures and diversions or realignments of the following: the A653 Victoria Road; the A653 Meadow Lane; Neville Street; Sovereign Street; and Little Neville Street. These would affect all road users including pedestrians and cyclists.”
Once completed, HS2 will reduce journey times from Leeds to London from their current two hours and 11 minutes to one hour and 21 minutes. Final plans for the route through Yorkshire will be submitted to Parliament in 2020 and operation of the route is expected to start in 2033.
A ten-week public consultation has launched on the plans.
Leeds City Council Leader Councillor Judith Blake said: “HS2 will be transformational for Leeds and the region. It will bring many thousands of jobs: not just during construction as Birmingham is already proving, but alongside our growth strategy it will deliver enormous economic benefits, huge improvements in connectivity and significant further numbers of future jobs locally.
“It is imperative however that HS2 is planned and delivered in a way that maximises its potential for Leeds while minimising its disruption to the city. This is an extremely important opportunity for people living near to the planned route or indeed anyone who is interested to have their say on the emerging plans and I would urge them to do so to help HS2 Ltd get it right.”
Leonie Dubois, HS2 Ltd’s Head of Consultation and Engagement, said: “HS2 is coming to the north and it will reap significant benefits as a result. High speed rail will play a crucial role in rebalancing Britain’s economy; driving business growth, stimulating investment and creating jobs right across the country.
“Through the public consultations, we are providing a more detailed account of how we propose to build the railway and minimise its impacts during construction and operation. We actively encourage people to have their say on the plans we have published today.”