NO huge engineering project can be completed without disruption and some collateral damage.
In the case the planned £500m HS2 station in Leeds this will mean demolishing the Hilton Hotel and Asda’s head office building.
We always knew that there would be winners and losers with HS2 environmentally speaking, but economically there should be an overall gain for the city. If not, why build it? What is worrying is that in this latest report by HS2, who would want to talk up the positives of the project, there are warnings of a “major adverse impact” on the city.
They say almost 5,000 jobs will “be displaced or possibly lost” when Asda’s head office, the Hilton and dozens of other businesses have to be pulled down. They argue it would be difficult to find suitable alternative city centre premises to replace them. Leeds City Council would no doubt do all in their power to retain that workforce and accommodate them. But nonetheless we need to look at reports like this from HS2 very carefully and heed what they are saying. Of course it’s early days and we do not wish to lose sight of the positives to the city. It’s not just reduced journey times (although that should make Leeds an even more attractive place in which to do business by those fighting for space in the capital) and no-one could argue that the station approach doesn’t need an upgrade. But we can’t be blinded by the shiny new thing.