Labour calls for end to HS2 land uncertainty in South Yorkshire

Labour figures in Yorkshire have called on the government for the second time to end a ‘blight’ on residents’ lives caused by the now-scrapped HS2 rail link.

The Government scrapped the South Yorkshire leg of the high-speed train line in 2021, and is still not allowing earmarked land to be built on or sold – but say the safeguarding ‘will be amended by summer next year’.

Now, in letters to ministers, Wentworth and Dearne MP John Healey, Council Leader Chris Read, and Rother Valley’s Labour prospective parliamentary candidate Jake Richards have urged the government to remove the safeguarding.

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Councillor Read described the safeguarded status, which allows HS2 to veto local plans, as “a blight on Rotherham properties”, and wrote to the Transport Minister in August to express his concerns.

HS2 's Yorkshire leg was scrapped in 2021HS2 's Yorkshire leg was scrapped in 2021
HS2 's Yorkshire leg was scrapped in 2021

He has since written again to Huw Merriman, adding that Rotherham residents “were particularly surprised to see that the HS2 announcement still did not address local concerns about blight,” after the Prime Minister confirmed the project will no longer reach South Yorkshire.

In October 2023, it was confirmed that the new line between Birmingham and Manchester has been scrapped altogether.

In his letter, MP John Healey says: “From day one, I opposed this route and worked with our HS2 community action groups, rail experts and local councils to demolish the flawed case for switching the HS2 route from Meadowhall to the M18… There can be no reason now not to lift ‘safeguarding land restrictions’ imposed by Ministers for HS2 on large areas of land in Rotherham.”

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And prospective parliamentary candidate for Rother Valley Jake Richards added: “There appears to be no good reason why the restrictions can not be lifted sooner rather than later for families and residents in Rother Valley. The affected households need an expeditious resolution.”

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “Phase 2a safeguarding will be formally lifted in weeks and Phase 2b (Western and Eastern Legs, including HS2 East) safeguarding will be amended by summer next year, to allow for any safeguarding needed for Northern Powerhouse Rail.”