Constructing HS2 will “change the character” of Yorkshire communities along the route and “may impact residents’ quality of life”, high-speed rail bosses have admitted.
A 250-page report summarising the potential environmental impacts of the Phase 2b route running through the region states almost 100 homes and more than 50 business and commercial properties will have to be demolished under the current plans.
Dozens of roads across the county will be permanently closed, realigned or diverted under the plans, which will involve several years of construction work.
“The combination of construction noise, visual and traffic impacts would change the character of neighbourhoods, and may impact on residents’ quality of life,” the report said in relation to parts of the route running through North-East Derbyshire up through villages in the Rotherham, Doncaster, Barnsley, Wakefield and Leeds areas.
“For rural communities dependent on shops and services in nearby towns, temporary closures and diversions of local roads may reduce the accessibility of key services.”
In relation to plans for the track up to the new Leeds HS2 station, the report added: “Road closures and diversions would have the potential to reduce community connectivity by increasing journey times, particularly on heavily-used commuter routes.”
A ten-week public consultation on the plans, which HS2 say will bring “significant benefits to the north”, has now started. Finalised plans will go before Parliament in 2020 and the route is due to be in operation by 2033.
The report contains no mention of proposals to build a £300m parkway station in either South or West Yorkshire which have been under consideration for two years since plans to build a new HS2 station at Meadowhall was scrapped and the route moved eastwards towards the M18. The Department for Transport said no decision has been made on if there will be a parkway station.
Leeds City Council leader Judith Blake said the building of a new £500m HS2 station in Leeds adjacent to the existing railway station will be “transformational” for the city, but work must be done in a way that minimises disruption.
She said: “HS2 will bring many thousands of jobs: not just during construction as Birmingham is already proving, but alongside our growth strategy it will deliver enormous economic benefits, huge improvements in connectivity and significant further numbers of future jobs locally.
“It is imperative however that HS2 is planned and delivered in a way that maximises its potential for Leeds while minimising its disruption to the city.”
Leonie Dubois, HS2 Ltd’s Head of Consultation and Engagement, said: “HS2 is coming to the north and it will reap significant benefits as a result. High speed rail will play a crucial role in rebalancing Britain’s economy; driving business growth, stimulating investment and creating jobs right across the country.
“Through the public consultations, we are providing a more detailed account of how we propose to build the railway and minimise its impacts during construction and operation. We actively encourage people to have their say on the plans we have published today.
“Residents and businesses across the Phase 2b route are invited to view the latest designs and respond to the public consultations.”
Jonathan Pile, from Yorkshire Against HS2, said: “This new environmental summary is more frank about the actual detailed impacts than HS2 has been up to now. This is the first time HS2 is starting to be honest about the scale of the impact this project is going to have.”