GEORGE Osborne has announced that the man in charge of delivering high speed rail line HS2 is to draw up plans for a major redevelopment of Leeds station.
Plans are already in place for a second rail station to be built on a site near Bridgewater Place ready for HS2 but concerns have been raised that it will be difficult for passengers to connect with services using the current station.
HS2 chairman David Higgins also warned in a report last year that by the time HS2 arrives in the city the existing Leeds station will have reached capacity, raising questions over where to house services using a proposed new East-West line known as HS3.
Today. the Chancellor announced he was asking Sir David to carry out a major review of Leeds station to make the city ready for new high speed rail links.
Mr Osborne was speaking alongside the Prime Minister at an event in Leeds setting out the Conservatives’ economic plans for Yorkshire.
He said: “HS2, and now the planned HS3 across the pennines, will revolutionise connections across the North of England. This in turn will deliver a major boost to the economies of our great Northern cities.
“And I want to make sure we seize every benefit from this once in a generation infrastructure project. We are going to do that right here in Leeds.
“Already one of the busiest railway stations in the country, with the arrival of high speed rail this city should be transformed.”
He added: “Today I can tell you I have asked Sir David Higgins to produce an interim report to present to me in the autumn.
“I want this report to explore the options for a major redevelopment of Leeds station for the arrival of high speed rail.”
Mr Osborne also used his speech to announce that work was beginning to develop a business case for making it possible for trains to travel on the East Coast Mainline at 140mph.
West Yorkshire council leaders last week urged the Government to make progress on talks to devolve powers and money from Whitehall to the region.
Today Mr Osborne pledged to end the deadlock on the talks, expressing hope that a so-called devolution deal can be in place by the time of the Budget.
The Chancellor confirmed that a new University Technical College in Hull will open to give young people skills in advanced manufacturing and digital technologies.
Named after leading education figure Lord Ron Dearing of Hull, the UTC will cater for 14 to 19 year olds and offer courses in digital technology and ‘mechatronics’ which combines computing and mechanical engineering.
Spencer Group executive chairman Charlie Spencer, who is chairman of the steering group behind the scheme, said: “The UTC will unlock Hull’s engineering potential, build on the investment by Siemens in wind turbine facilities and capitalise upon the upsurge in digital and renewable energy technologies within the city and wider region.
“The time to train in digital technology is now and the UTC will offer the very best opportunities for young people to develop high-value digital and engineering skills.”
Hailing the Humber’s ambitions to be the centre of the offshore wind industry, Mr Osborne said he was considering expanding the area’s enterprise zone which gives tax breaks to companies which invest locally.
The Chancellor also used his speech in Leeds to announce £1.5 million to help the Ferens Art Gallery in Hull stage the Turner Prize exhibition as part of City of Culture 2017.
opportunities for young people to develop high-value digital and engineering skills.”
Martin Green, chief executive of Culture Company, said: “This is a huge vote of confidence in Hull’s ability to deliver a world-class year of culture in 2017 and in the power of culture to be a catalyst for economic regeneration.”