James O'Brien is Leading Britain's Conversation.
2 August 2017, 08:05
The Government and the public are being misled by HS2 on the number of properties they will need to demolish to build the high speed line, local residents have told LBC.
Last month the Government revealed the plans for phase 2B of the controversial project, the Y-shaped part of the network after it splits at Birmingham to go to Manchester and Leeds.
On the Leeds branch, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling had the option of an eastern route along the M18 motorway or through Meadhowhall.
He chose the M18 route which involves a spur line going into Sheffield Midland station instead of a new station being built at Meadowhall, which campaigners and local MPs believe would have better served the wider region.
But Stop HS2 Bramley, a town which the £56 billion line will run through, believe some of the figures which informed that decision by Mr Grayling were incorrect.
Chris Matthewman, the Chair of the Stop HS2 Bramley action group used an independent surveyor to check the number of properties which will have to be bought and destroyed.
He told LBC: "It’s impossible to know at this stage how many properties will actually be demolished if the route goes ahead as planned. However it is clear that there will be far more than the 35 HS2 are quoting."
“The important number at this stage is the number of properties within 100 metres of the track. In total, there are 445 properties within 100 metres of the track position on the M18 Eastern route, compared to 296 on the Meadowhall route, which is a 50% increase. This is backed up by a report commissioned by Sheffield City Region who’ve carried out an assessment of the highest impact areas which show property count figures similar to ours."
He added: "There are a further 95 properties on the Shimmer estate that are not within 100 metres, however they are safeguarded and effectively uninhabitable, if the route were to go ahead as planned."
Sue Douglas and her husband Pete are having to move from the home they retired to on the Shimmer estate.
Whilst HS2 say only 16 of these brand new houses will need to be demolished, Sue says the number is much higher.
She said: "Just laughable. We know for a fact just looking at the route, there is 16 blocks of houses directly underneath the viaduct. That’s without bringing in your cranes and your heavy equipment and your builders. So we reckon that’s at least 100 houses gone."
Pete points out that the figure from HS2 ignores the much-needed neighbouring houses which should have been built on the estate too before construction stopped: “They told us in the early doors when they actually safeguarded the estate that no one would be able to live here because it will be a building site."
A DfT spokesman said: “Having carefully considered the consultation responses and further advice from HS2 Ltd, we are clear that the M18 route is best for meeting our strategic aims of serving south Yorkshire while meeting passenger demand and improving connectivity further north. It also requires fewer property demolitions, has less impact on the environment and is more cost effective.
"We are acutely aware of the impacts that building a new railway has for those who live nearby and will minimise disruption, ensuring communities get appropriate support and are treated with fairness, compassion and respect."