HS2 to demolish Asda HQ and Hilton hotel for new Leeds station - as 5,000 city centre jobs put at risk

Building a new £500m HS2 station in Leeds will result in the demolition of a Hilton hotel in addition to Asda's national headquarters and dozens of other business premises - with almost 5,000 city centre jobs "being displaced or possibly lost", high-speed rail bosses have admitted.

The future of Asda House in Leeds is in doubt.
The future of Asda House in Leeds is in doubt.

A new HS2 report details for the first time the full extent of the impact of the construction project, which is due to start in late 2024 and expected to take around six years to complete.

A 198-page environmental statement from the company on the impact of the construction of the station, listed the losses of the Hilton Leeds City Hotel on Neville Street and Asda’s head office as potentially having a “major adverse” impact.

Talks are taking place about the future of the Hilton and other affected businesses in Leeds.

The report said 59 business units or sites will experience “direct impacts” from the building work - including financial and professional services firms, a driving school training centre and a car dealership that are expected to have their existing premises pulled down.

More than 1,000 other jobs in Yorkshire - including 800 on the outskirts of Leeds - will also be affected by the building of the HS2 line through the region.

The report warns both Asda, which employs around 2,000 people in the city, and the Hilton hotel, “would have difficulty in finding suitable quality alternative premises of equivalent scale” in Leeds. Earlier this year, Asda bosses said they intended to keep their headquarters in Leeds despite the HS2 issue and a proposed merger with Sainsbury’s that is currently under investigation from the Competition and Markets Authority.

It said: “The construction of the proposed scheme would require the demolition of the Hilton Leeds City Hotel, and of Asda Head Office. The Hilton Leeds City Hotel is treated as a cluster of business units, which includes the primary hotel, and a series of associated functions including a gym, café, restaurant, and conference facility.

HS2 say the new Leeds station will bring thousands of new jobs to the city.

“Hotels can be bespoke buildings that exist in unique locations within a city; and there is a more limited supply than, for example, office space. It is considered that these operators would have difficulty in finding suitable alternative premises. The effect on the Hilton Leeds City Hotel, and its employees, would be major adverse and therefore significant.

“Asda Head Office operates as the headquarters for a multi-national retailer. The location accommodates eight business units consisting of one financial and insurance activities unit and seven professional, scientific and technical activities units jointly dealing with finance, commerce, training, communications, and customer services. It is considered that the operators would have difficulty in finding suitable quality alternative premises of equivalent scale. The effect on Asda Head Office, and its employees, is assessed to be major adverse and therefore significant.

“An estimated 4,870 jobs would either be displaced or possibly lost in the wider Leeds Station area. There is a reasonable probability that businesses would be able to relocate to places that would still be accessible to residents within the travel to work areas due to the general availability of vacant premises. However, there may be cases where alternative locations are problematic and the businesses may be unable to relocate on a like-for-like basis within the area.

“The impact on the local economy from the relocation or loss of jobs is considered to be relatively modest in the context of the total number of people employed in the Leeds City Council area (approximately 443,000 jobs), and the scale of economic activity and opportunity in the area.”

A Hilton hotel in Leeds is due to be demolished when HS2 is built.

HS2 said today it is holding meetings with businesses whose premises are facing demolition, including Asda and Hilton.

A spokeswoman said: “HS2 is coming to West Yorkshire and the region will reap significant benefits as a result.

“Over 90 Yorkshire-based companies have already been awarded contracts working on the project, and we expect that number to increase significantly as plans for Phase Two of the railway progress. When construction peaks, as the Phase Two network progresses, the number of jobs supported by HS2 is forecast to rise to 30,000.

"We are committed to supporting businesses and community organisations who are impacted by our proposals. We have a dedicated commercial support team and are holding one to one meetings with business owners to explain what this means for them, and the options available to them. Construction of the railway between the West Midlands and Leeds is not expected to start for at least five years so there is time to plan.”

A spokesman for Asda said: “Since HS2 was announced in 2015, we have been in regular dialogue with the council and are fully aware of the proposed plans should the development go-ahead.”

A Hilton spokesperson said ”Hilton is aware of the proposed scheme and is engaged in consultation.”

The report says around 520 construction jobs will be created by the building of the new HS2 station in Leeds and council leader Judith Blake said earlier this week the high-speed line “will bring many thousands of jobs” to the city. In its HS2 Growth Strategy, Leeds City Region predicts that its HS2 Growth Strategy programmes will add an extra £54bn to the regional economy by 2050.

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.

In a separate report about the Stourton to Hunslet section of the line, it is estimated around 800 jobs are at risk with the route affecting a maintenance site for a rail freight firm, as well as building materials manufacturer’s site.

A further 170 jobs are to be affected as a result of the line requiring the demolition of four businesses on the western part of Denaby Main Industrial Estate on the outskirts of Doncaster.

The HS2 reports said affected businesses will receive compensation.

National Trust concerned over HS2 route

The National Trust has hit out at HS2 plans for its line through Yorkshire to pass within 400m of parkland around its Nostell Priory near Wakefield.

Jenny Layfield, General Manager at Nostell, said: “We welcome HS2’s plans for landscaping, woodland and wetland habitat creation around Nostell but we feel much more can be done to alleviate the impact of the railway on Nostell and create attractive, accessible green space.”

She said the Trust has shared mitigation plans drawn up by landscape architects with HS2.