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Councillors to consider proposals to refresh Cheshire East's HS2 programme

Cheshire East 27/10/2021

Maximising the significant opportunities now available.

A report is to be considered on proposals to refresh Cheshire East Council's HS2 programme to maximise the significant regeneration and investment opportunities now available.

The council is continuing to drive forward its vision for Crewe and to prepare for the opportunities that high speed rail can offer, building on the many successes already realised in the town and wider borough.

To ensure its plans can adapt to the impacts of the pandemic and a shift in Government funding opportunities – and that it can continue to make strides with Crewe’s regeneration – councillors are now being asked to consider recommendations to refresh Cheshire East’s HS2 work programme.

A report will go before Cheshire East’s corporate policy committee on 4 November.

Jayne Traverse, Cheshire East Council’s executive director – place, said: “We remain committed to working collaboratively with all our partners to secure the maximum potential economic benefits on the back of the HS2 programme for Crewe.

“To capture those benefits, it is hugely important that our plans and strategies can capitalise on new funding and investment opportunities, and that they reflect the current landscape.

“The pandemic has had wide-ranging impacts, including on travel behaviours, working patterns and the market for new commercial development across the country.

“These factors mean that elements of our plans are likely to take longer to realise and the planning policy and infrastructure plans developed pre-pandemic need to be reviewed to reflect this and establish the best way forward for Crewe and its communities, the wider borough and region.

“It is also important to note that many projects are being developed for Crewe on the back of the success of both the town’s Future High Streets Fund and Towns Fund bids.

“Our HS2 programme needs to be refreshed to build on these opportunities and so that we have the right ingredients in place to secure additional investment and ensure that Crewe is HS2-ready.

“The planned improvements around the station on Nantwich Road and Weston Road will continue to be progressed with our strategic partners to secure the necessary funding and are not affected by the plan refresh.”

The report to the corporate policy committee seeks two key decisions to enable the HS2 programme to be refreshed and infrastructure priorities to be reset.

These are to withdraw the emerging Crewe Hub Area Action Plan and to revoke the preferred route decision on the Southern Link Road Bridge, which proposed a new highway crossing between Gresty Road and Weston Road, to the south of Crewe Station.

Jayne Traverse added: “Crewe is most certainly a town with a bright future ahead and major successes have already been realised in the town, including the opening of the University Technical College and Lifestyle Centre and refurbishment of Crewe Market Hall, as well as the delivery of a number of major highways projects including the Sydney Road Bridge and Crewe Green Roundabout schemes. And there is more to come.

“Earlier this year, the council was allocated up to £14.1m of government funding from the Future High Streets Fund. Most recently, Crewe also secured a ‘Town Deal’ and a separate allocation of funding from the government’s Towns Fund of up to £22.9m.

“Work is ongoing on the Royal Arcade scheme and on a major package of active travel and road improvements in North West Crewe.

“These allocations of funding and projects, together with new Government initiatives such as the Levelling Up Fund and Great British Railways HQ, demonstrate the extent of the current investments and regeneration opportunities for Crewe.

“Furthermore, the granting of Royal Assent to HS2 Phase 2a in February this year was a key milestone in securing long-term HS2 benefits for the town in the build up to when the high-speed train services begin.

“We remain confident that Crewe will be central to the government’s plans for the extension of the HS2 line to Manchester and how this could link to Northern Powerhouse Rail in the future.

“It makes sense to refresh the plans for central Crewe to ensure that we can align them to the opportunities both now and when HS2 arrives.

“This will place us in the best possible position to help Crewe to see further significant improvements over the next few years and be set to reach its full potential in the years that follow.”